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Images Record Life As It Happens
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 • Posted December 9, 2009

When I was young, cameras would appear at family events and special occasions. There would be posed pictures (usually with Steve making a face), and a few candid shots would be taken. Then, the film had to be developed, the pictures picked up from the store, and we would go through them, deciding which were keepers and which had not turned out as well as we had hoped.

When Polaroid developed inexpensive instant cameras, we became more inclined to take more pictures. After all, we could see the end result in only 60 seconds, and if it wasn't what we'd hoped, we could have a "do over."

The biggest stumbling block for film cameras, for most of us, was the cost. Though the cameras could be relatively inexpensive, the cost of film and developing meant that we still restricted ourselves on what we photographed, and how many pictures we took.

And then came digital photography!

Digital cameras, when they were first introduced in the late 1990s, were very expensive. But, there was a great deal of interest in having a camera that didn't need film, and that had storage devices that allowed the photographer to use and reuse the same card over and over. The pictures might have an odd color balance, and they might have been a little fuzzy,,,, but they were wicked cheap, so we started taking pictures of everything.

And then, the cost of digital cameras dropped, while the quality of the photos continued to improve. Soon, for less than $300, high quality photos could be taken, printed on photo paper at home, emailed to friends around the country, shared on social networking sites.... Our images began to proliferate.

With my digital camera here at the News office, I take around 60-80 photos per week on average. During football season or Roundup, that number goes up dramatically. For every four photos I take, only one will make it into the newspaper; but, we often upload additional photos to our website as a bonus to our online readers. And, I keep all those images.

Since 2002, we have kept every digital image that has made its way through our computers. That's photos of stock show contestants and recipe winners. There are wedding and engagement photos, side by side with birth announcements and obituaries. There are football sweethearts and folks who got arrested. Candidates for office photos were saved, as were pictures of them being sworn in after the election.

We filled up CDs, and then added external hard drives so that we have ready access to the pictures. Hundreds of photos have turned into thousands. We still have all the digital images from our photo contests, and we have all the historical photos that have been submitted to us during the Sesquicentennial celebration.

Is it too much? All these photos,,, can we really have too many pictures? I suppose that it would be difficult to find a specific image quickly; but, we will find it eventually. And, if we need to know what someone looked like six years ago while they hosted the Wild Game Dinner, we have photos to show just that moment.

It's a new age when it comes to documenting our lives, and we, like so many others, have become slaves to the need to save every moment. But, we only share the ones that stand out, and that we have room for, so you won't ever see all of them.

Unless, of course, you're sitting at my desk, looking for that one shot you know you took three years ago!!!

It’s all just my opinion.

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