The digital age has delivered fast and affordable motorsport photography to everyone with a smartphone. Technology can have its downsides, however, and losing your pictures is a real threat. Dallas Dogger looks at the best ways to ensure those memories will always be at your fingertips. * * * * * We think nothing of taking a “selfie” at any opportunity. Even Jack Monkouse takes pictures of his custard tarts and post them social media in the vain thought that the rally world cares! (We love your tart pictures Jack.) But are we making a fundamental error of judgment by not backing up and even printing our photographs? At many rallies, millions of pictures are taken on smartphones and many choose to use a phone as their primary camera. As a professional photographer, I consider a smartphone to be a telephone, not a camera. Whilst I have taken many thousands of photos with my phone, I don’t consider it to be a camera that I would rely on for a holiday or for important photographic work, or for promoting my business.

In the 'old' days, prints would arrive back from the photo lab after an excruciating wait. Photo: Dallas Dogger

They are not bad, but they can’t take the place of a good camera. My grandfather was a prolific photographer and my father had custody of his collection. When Dad moved into a retirement home, I became the custodian of his images and Dad’s as well.
A brief look at these images reveals a world before my time and a reflection on early 20thcentury life. They are prints and transparencies, some even large format, and there are hundreds of prints in packets.
Here is the point: I have a couple of plastic containers full of memories of a rich life of family members.  I will, over time, digitise the collection, so they can be shared with my family, and over time they will want to see these pictures. There are old styled photo albums as well, containing black pages with photos dutifully attached with old stuck-on photo corners, a white pen used to annotate with wonderful detail – a bit like geotagging or adding metadata today. Metadata is not new!
I started taking pictures when I was 10. I was given a Kodak Instamatic as my first camera and I thought it was Christmas! It was, actually…
I progressed, taking a few pictures as I could afford to as a kid, wasting not one shot, waiting for dad to take the film to the chemist to be processed. The wait was excruciating! I have many thousands of my own printed photos and it will be a huge job to digitise them.

Storing your photos in the 'cloud' is a great way to ensure you'll have access to them moving forward.

The golden age of rallying was rich pickings for a young photographer at rallies. The ‘79 and ‘80 Castrols, the Southern Cross, Begas and Alpines and many others, all delivered fabulous opportunities to take pictures. I would go to these events that I did not compete in with as much film as I could afford and take pictures very carefully, knowing each one cost a lot to be processed, and often ordering duplicates for magazines like Racing Car News, Auto Action, even Australian Rallysport News. Looking forward to the modern age, are we backing up the thousands of pictures taken on our phones? Many might think they do, but have they checked? Do they transfer their pictures to a computer or tablet? Are those devices backed up? Do you even know? Most who use phones are not camera or photography experts.
I wonder if we will have a generation or more of lost rally imagery with lost phones and failure to back up images?
How will we share these images with loved ones when we pass on? How will their kids see their forefathers? We will rely on Facebook and Instagram for rally history? What happens if Facebook or Instagram disappear? Will they still be around in 50 years? Don’t get me wrong, digital photography is the biggest leap for photography since cameras were invented. In the old days, you took your films and got them processed, you got back tangible prints or transparencies in your hands. The wait after a big rally was painful, especially if you used transparencies! When we see the tragedy of natural disasters, people interviewed always lament: “We lost everything, we couldn’t save our wedding pictures, all our family photos are gone”. Digital photography is a two-edged sword. We need to find ways to digitise our memories and our own rally history by saving them on the cloud, and equally, we need to ensure the images we take are saved for others when we are gone.

A hard drive is a perfect place to store your photos, but a secondary back-up is also recommended.

Here are my suggestions:
  1. Back up externally. Make sure your smartphone is backing up images to a service. Apple and Google offer cloud back up and most phones have this option. A certain amount of storage is free, and you may have to pay for some extra space. It’s worth it.
  2. Share your images. If you are hit by an Asteroid after lunch, loved ones will have a copy of your memories.
  3. Keep passwords safe: And make sure you have safe passwords.
  4. Digitise old photos:Either buy a scanner connected to your computer or use a camera to take pictures of the pictures. Save those in new folders and back them up to the cloud too.
  5. Share the information with others:Make sure family know how to access your images in the event of a disaster to you or your house.
  6. Don’t rely on Social Media.Posting pictures on socials is fine, but if someone deletes them then the record is gone.
Memories are great until they fade, and let me tell you they fade far faster than photos do.
If you rely on your phone as your main camera, then please back it up in real time. In the old days if you lost a camera or film it had up to 36 images. Today your phone loss could mean the loss of thousands of images.
You will be cranky if you lose your phone, they cost plenty to replace, and the memories in it are priceless, so back them up! As you get older you get more nostalgic about your past. There will be a time when you don’t compete or play an active role in rallying, and how you keep your memories will play very much on your mind if you can’t find pictures of your time in the sport. In 30 years’ time, someone will want a great picture of Harry Bates in 2018 for a story about Harry’s kids. Make sure you save your pictures!
  • Dallas Dogger

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