What Will Happen To Your Digital Photographs When You Die?

Taken at Yosemite in 1932 My wife's grandmother died a couple of years ago and at the time we spent a few days going through boxes and boxes of old photos including photos from Yosemite vacations in the 1930's (shown here) and the shipyards of Oakland where she worked during world war II.

As we shifted through decades upon decades of memories, it got me thinking about all of the photographs been taken today all around the world. In this digital age a lot of the photographs only exist as photographs as long as the power is on. When the power is turned off, those photos don't exist as photographs anymore. There are just bits of data on a disk indistinguishable from brown bread recipes written in Notepad and Excel spreadsheet shopping lists.

So what will happen when you pass on and the power is switched off forever?

Yosemite 1932

Well, One of the first things that will happen is that your credit cards will be cancelled. What this means for your photographs is that eventually your hosting provider won't be paid and they will start to shut down your blog and website accounts. Also, eventually your domain names will go unrenewed and will start to point to landing pages at Go Daddy or whoever your domain registrar is.

In addition to this, because you have stopped paying, your Flickr account will lose its "pro" status leaving only the last 200 uploads on view.

At home, your computer will eventually be turned off. Since it is probably already obsolete, it may be moved to garage, thrown in the trash or recycling or possibly donated to charity.

Those spare hard drives or boxes of DVDs you diligently backed up to probably won't mean anything to anyone else so they may be tossed or recycled. It is probably unlikely anyone is going to go through them all to find anything of value beyond your financial data and tax documents.

So basically, it is very possible your photos will be lost forever.

Yosemite Falls 1932

So what can you do?

Personally, I don't care if my "art" photographs are lost or forgotten. But what I don't want lost are my "memories". By that I mean my vacation snapshots with my wife. The photos of New Years Eve with my friends. The photographs that document who I was, who I knew and what I did.

So a few years ago I started to make prints. After every vacation or event, I'd pick 30 or so photos to make 4x6 inch prints on I then put them into small photo albums picked up at Target. Yes, it's all very old school but there is something special about holding a print. Some people say a photograph doesn't exist until you can hold it in your hand and I am inclined to agree. Even now I enjoy going back through the albums and looking at photos from a trip to Spain in 2003 or my honeymoon in Maui.

So what is going to happen to your digital photos when you die?

WPTouch UI for Mobile Users

I recently enabled WPTouch to change the user interface for mobile users visiting using iPhones, Android phones, Palm Pre phones and other smart devices. Hopefully this will speed up the page loads for people checking the site on the go. How BlurDotBlog home page looks on the iPhone

WPTouch is a plugin from Brand New Code and is easy to install and use. Instead of being served the regular page, a stripped down page is shown. But just because it is stripped down doesn't mean there is a a loss of functionality. Users can still leave comments, navigate to other pages or jump to your Twitter feed.

How a blog post looks using WPTouch

If your site uses WPSuperCache there are a few things you will need to configure and there is help for that on the WPTouch website but other than that it works right out of the box.

You can get more information at the Brand New Code website

Some Spring Cleaning

Here at Blur Dot Blog the Internet Elves have been hard at work for the past few hours doing some spring cleaning on the site. The side bar is gone, the links have been moved into a separate page and the photographs will be larger from now on.

There is still a little more work to do but check out the new look.

Breaking Story (?)

The Daily Mail Newspaper online yesterday published a story about a photographer jumping between two outcrops at the Grand Canyon. What is unusual about this story is that it includes photographs that were posted to Flickr nearly two years ago by another photographer who caught the action with his camera. It should also been mentioned that while the feat is still dangerous it is not nearly as dangerous as it is described. You can read more about it here on

Break Dance

This is a cropped version of an old photo taken in Helsinki last summer. See if you can spot something strange in the background.

30 Seconds Of Excitement

Had 30 seconds of excitement last night. There was a 5.6 earthquake with the epicenter about 13 miles from our house. First of all we heard a big bang coming from the garage and our couch shook. I thought something huge had fallen in the garage but I couldn’t imagine what it could be. Then the floor started to rock back and forth. It lasted about 30 seconds while we stood in a doorway for cover. There was no damage around here but I read in the news that some phones went out in Palo Alto.