Thursday, June 5, 2008

Timing Is Everything

Timing is everything, and my timing usually seems to be bad. On April 30 2008 DigMyPics received 33 rolls of negative film from me totalling 758 frames. They were to digitize the frames at 2000 dpi and send me back my film and a DVD containing the images. An order of this size typically takes about 10 days.

On Monday May 5, at approximately 2 am local time, a fire broke out in the building that houses DigMyPics. The fire was devastating. It destroyed the building, most of the equipment, and a significant portion of the photos, negatives, film, and videos that the company was processing at the time. The fire and the investigation afterwards made their servers inaccessible, so they could not even determine who had orders still pending. They did not get servers back from the fire department (due to the investigation in to the cause of the fire) until May 23. After they restored access to their database, they were able to determine that they had 195 orders in house at various stages of processing.

The people at DigMyPics have been working like crazy since the fire trying to salvage as much as they can. Not everything was lost, and some things that were damaged could still be salvaged and at least digitized. By June 2 they were able to determine that, of the 195 orders, 51 have been fully recovered and another 28 have at least something recovered. They are still working on the remaining orders trying to match them up with the media they have been able to salvage.

I received word towards the end of May that they have found at least some of my images on the server they got back from the fire department. But so far I have not received details on how much they have or when they will be able to cut me a disk. I do not have any hope of recovering the original negatives at this point.

If you go to their website now,, you will only see text and a few pictures of their recovery efforts. It was a tragedy that took many people's precious memories. But the good news is that no one was hurt and the fire was contained to the one building.

I am very appreciative of the folks at DigMyPics and their continuing efforts to salvage what they can. They were certainly under no legal obligation to do so, and could easily have walked away from the whole mess. But they understand these are our memories and in many cases cannot be replaced.

In my collection, the following topics are missing and feared lost: Branda's wedding, Mom & Dad's 50th wedding anniversary, my 35th birthday party, family trip to Vegas and the Grand Canyon, Cindy's etiquette class and banquet, Ryan's (my nephew) first birthday, Becky's surprise birthday party, Cindy's 10th birthday, Christmas pictures from 1999, 2000, and 2001. In many cases I can still locate the photos, and digital images can be created from those. But it is much more difficult to correlate the photos with dates and events, and the resulting digitized images aren't as good.

If I had sent the order out two weeks earlier (like I wanted to) it would have been completed and back in my hands. If I had procrastinated another week, the order never would have arrived and the negatives would have been sent back to me.

So now I have to find a different digitizing house for the remainder of my negatives. And next time I think I may send out smaller orders.


Jim said...

Your last sentence in this entry is key. I operate a 35MM slide scanning service out of my home office. I often recommend that customers with very large orders split it up into smaller batches. This reduces the likelihood of a complete loss of photo collections, (and it makes my job a little easier.)

Mooney Guy said...

I just received some really good news from Digmypics today. Once they got their servers back from the fire department they were able to locate my order, and it had already been completed! All 758 frames were on the system. They have cut me a disk with those images and it should arrive tomorrow. They have also offered to return what portion of my negatives they are able to locate. But they warned me that the negatives will smell of smoke and may contain mold spores. I will probably not request the negatives. The 2000 dpi images will be good enough for reproductions up to 8x10. I am relieved to hear that these images were not lost, and am very impressed with the diligence of the folks at Digmypics to save everything they can.