|Digitization vs. Preservation.|
From Soup to Nuts!
Purchase nearly any cellphone today and it comes armed with at least a 5 megapixel camera ready to aim and shoot. All multifunction printer/fax/scan units include capabilities onboard with the ability to scan photos. Then, there are the host of dedicated photo scanners that range from the handheld/pocket versions to professional units capable of scanning hundreds of photos at high quality in minutes and costing many thousands of dollars.
No matter what the technology...bottom line is they all can be used to convert printed photographs into a digital ones. However, there is a difference between digitizing a printed photo and preserving one.
The Difference - Digitized
Let’s look at digitizing images first.
When referring to a printed photograph, digitization simply means an analog image is converted into a digital representation using normally a binary numeric code. During the conversion process the detail, or resolution, of the image is also determined.
As a result of these rather unconstrained parameters, a printed photograph that has been scanned at a very high quality image resolution with sophisticated professional scanning equipment is classified as ‘digitized’, just the same that photo being imaged with an inexpensive 3 megapixel cellphone camera used to quickly snap a shot so it can be uploaded into Facebook.
The Difference - Preservation
Now, let’s take a look at preservation of images.
Preserving refers to guarding your photographs. In fact, the very word originated from its Latin roots meaning to ‘watch over’ or ‘keep’. So, when speaking about preserving your photos - while the process may very well include digitizing them - it means much more than simply some ambivalent process.
Instead, photo preservation entails having a plan and strategy that will ensure the very essence of each photograph’s content is properly guarded and maintained. This requires establishing and working within specific guidelines. At a minimum, such a plan would include a process that carefully considers organization, physical handling & storage, digitization, digital resolution, color depth, file type, and storage media. Also important is attention to quality control during each step.
Do You Have Pictures? There is Help!
The good news is there is a lot of information available to you online about preservation guidelines for photographs from professionals both in this country and aboard. These have been established by expert archivists working with such institutions as the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Library of Congress' National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program & National Digital Stewardship Alliance, or National Archives United Kingdom, to name just a few.
Still need more assistance? The Library of Congress offers guidance about caring for your photograph collection. Check it out here!
|Digital Directions is sponsored by E-Z Photo Scan where making digital preservation easy is our mission. Visit E-Z Photo Scan to learn more about the possibilities for achieving your digital preservation goals. E-Z Photo Scan is also part of the National Digital Stewardship Alliance and member of its Outreach Working Group.|