Friday, February 3, 2012

Before the Wave - Photographs are Important

Photograph Recovery Efforts After Japanese Tsunami
Recovery of Photographs from Tsunami Devastation
Image Source:

I read with interest this story in the Japan Times, about photographs recovered after the devastating tsunami hit Japan on March 11, 2011.

Japan Times Story

Japanese photographer Munemasa Takahashi, 31 years old, is leading an effort to recover, restore, and return photographs recovered from the wreckage. Some 19,200 photographs have been returned to their owners, while an estimated 30,000 remain unclaimed.

A selection of unclaimed images is currently on display in Tokyo, where some are for sale (~$15 each), with proceeds going to charity to help fund temporary housing for those affected by the tsunami.

The show will be on display at Hiroshi Watanabe Studio in Los Angeles, California, USA from March 8-25, 2012.

In a time when some photographers are threatened by the fact that technology is allowing more and more people to take great photographs themselves, I find this project encouraging. These pictures of everyday life, family members past and present, and a time before thoughts of the horrible tsunami will be very important to those who reclaim them. Hopefully sales of those unclaimed will make a real difference in the lives of the families who have lost their homes and lifestyles.

I also wonder if similar efforts to recover digital photographs from computer hard drives would be as successful. I honestly don't know the answer. It seems that when an operable hard drive is found, all of the photos will be recoverable; when it's inoperable, none will be. It seems likely that photo albums and boxes are somewhat less of an "all or nothing" proposition, but I don't know which gives a better probability of recovery.

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