On the top shelf of closets, in dusty basements, and tucked away in chests across the country sit shoeboxes and stacks of albums filled with photos. The images, perhaps slightly curled and yellowed, usually chronicle all the big moments of childhood: births, first days of school, gap-toothed elementary-school smiles, and high-school graduations. For decades, the photo-stuffed shoebox has been a household staple.
But unlike when some of these musty photos were snapped, parents today might take a dozen photos of their kids even before noon, posting the best ones to Instagram and texting them to the grandparents before trashing the blurry, less-than-ideal shots.
Kodak once touted 2000 as a landmark year, when the number of photos taken worldwide first eclipsed 80 billion. Fast forward to 2017, when just about everyone has a cellphone camera in their back pocket, and that figure jumped to a staggering 1.2 trillion digital photos.
It’s never been easier for parents to take pictures of their kids. But as the shoebox full of photos goes the way of VCRs and cassette players, parents today have to wrestle with what to do with the mound of photos they’ve taken and how to re-create that cherished relic for the digital era. And, as if that challenge weren’t difficult enough, there’s no guarantee that the sites and programs they use will still exist in the long term, raising the question of how parents can ensure that all the photos they’ve taken will actually be around long enough for their kids to truly appreciate them.