There is some sort of irony in me reading Chris Nevard's blog post the Longevity of Digital on Sunday. In it he makes the point that real, physical photos will probably out-live the billions of digital images taken every weekend.
That night we caught the edge of the really bad storm that had weather forecasters predicting doom in an effort to avoid Michael Fish style ridicule. While the winds didn't catch us, the heavy rain did.
Sadly, some of the rain made its way into our spare room. Some of this leaked into a drawer of photos that I'd been sorting out. Those that got wet became sticky and quickly turned into a brick of pictures stuck together as the print transformed into glue.
The box in the picture was full. I managed to save some pictures but not many. I would guess at about 150 being lost to water damage.
Would this happen with digital?
Well, they wouldn't get wet but the data does live on a hard drive around 7 years old. It could go bang at any time and I'd be in the hands of data reclamation specialists. Knowing this, I do back up the drive to an other hard drive and this box normally lives in a storage unit along with the layouts. Normally the worst I could lose is a months worth of photos and if I take anything specially, I make sure it gets backed up ASAP.
There's also a selection on Flickr so assuming Yahoo doesn't go bang, they will be OK.
As it was, I can consider myself lucky. The pictures lost were mainly shots taken for magazine article. These still exist and if I'm honest, most of the ones lost were rubbish that should have been thrown away long ago. Now they have been.
I also still have the negatives, admittedly in a bundle but it's a dry bundle so I could dig through and find some to scan or order re-prints from. I should probably box these up and put them in store too.
The moral of the story is, look after your pictures. Even those selfies you post on Facebook will matter to you one day, although judging by the yoofs I see taking them, you might not want to keep them all.