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Preserving your Memories

When my dad died last year I had to put together a slideshow of his life. The process made me very conscious of the value of photos, of film and of audio as media which can help us “hold on” to something of loved ones when they go.

Over the years, converting slides, negatives and prints into a digital format has been something I have needed to do occasionally – for myself and sometimes for other people. It can be quite magical to “rediscover” old photographs and more, in formats that can now be viewed on a screen – laptop or phone.

My dad as a baby – professional photo taken at a Watford studio

My sister Liz also passed away at the end of last year – between the weddings of her two daughters. It hasn’t been an easy time, all in all.

My brother in law, Paul, has been an airline pilot through his career, until caring for and grieving Liz took over. We are together, I guess, in sensing the fragility of life and of memories. Aside from pursuing his studies for a PhD, Paul is now also running CJK Digital, a small company dedicated to helping people preserve their memories. I have given this blog over to him, to tell it in his own words…

Paul at his younger daughter’s wedding this year

Paul with Liz and their three at another family wedding a few years back

The need to preserve your memories

“The pitch is: “In every house, there’s probably a shoe box – or bigger! – of photos. They sit there gathering dust. Eventually, the time comes to clear the house, and someone decides they don’t have time to do anything with them any more, and they get tossed into a black bag. And those links with the past – people, places, holidays, weddings, parties – are lost. Forever!”

saving your memories digitising cjk digital copying box of photos
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Except it’s not a pitch, so much as a plea. We can help convert old media into digital formats – but whether you come to us or not, please give a thought to preserving your memories.

Different eras were dominated by different media – and strangely enough, it’s not always the oldest media that are the most vulnerable. The 60s and 70s were the era of slides – they were expensive, so people took them with care, and looked after the slides. The 80s and 90s, with photo kit and developing becoming more affordable, was the era of 35mm – SLRs to begin with, then compact cameras. Some photo developers ended up giving two prints for the price of one. We are still drowning a bit under prints from that era. Digital cameras had a decade or so in the sun. Then, for many users, mobile phones and immediate sharing started to take over – the biggest problem today is picking out the good and interesting stuff from floods of images.

But while dyes fade a bit and early digital images aren’t great, still images tend to endure. A bigger concern is moving images. Take VHS videos. Camcorder tapes (and that’s another thing!) were expensive, so family videos were entrusted to VHS cassettes. But no new VHS players have been manufactured for around a decade. Whilst image quality on a decent VHS cassette might last 30 years with little deterioration, that’s not much use if you’ve no means of playing it.

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Having created digital format media, there are places it can be kept safely – images, video, audio – safer than on the hard drive of a computer. But the first step is to make it digital. Do give some thought to that – or at least, how about blowing the dust off the photos and albums this Christmas? You’d be surprised at how much pleasure it brings.

Helping you preserve your memories

As Andrew King Photography I can make good digital copies of prints. In the past I have worked with a scanner myself to digitise people’s slides and negatives. But now I go to CJK Digital with slides – my own or clients’.

If you have prints that you need preserved, contact me. If you have VHS, cassettes or slides, feel free to contact CJK Digital direct. And if you have a mixture of prints and other materials, talk to me and I will work with Paul to preserve the memories in all your different media.

My daughter – Spring 1987, playing with water in the back garden

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