Rick Smolan Photographer
So this theme of preserving family history has grown in importance to me as I've had my own children. And I found a really cool company recently that I just visited in India. It's called Scan Café, but there's many companies like this. And what you do at Scan Café is you take all the pictures, instead of editing everything first, which none of us will ever do, you just dump your negatives, your slides, your prints, your family albums, your snapshot pictures, put them in a box and you send them off to India. And they scan them all, in very high resolution. They get rid of the dust, the scratches; they color-correct them, put them up on a website for you. You can reject half of them. And then they send you DVDs.
So I just took all of my parents' photo albums, and I've got pictures of my great-grandparents dating back to the early 1900s. And suddenly, they're digital, and because they're digital, I can now edit them; I can reassemble them; I can do a book that's just about my mother's life. I don't care who her roommate was in college. In her photo album, that's a big deal, but I don't care, so I'm gonna leave that out of the story. But my mother's now 87, and so for her birthday, I'm creating the story of her life. So I'm taking these dead pixels and bringing them back to life through scanning.
But I think this is very exciting. I think it's a really interesting thing for people to be able to do, to kind of move their physical, old-world assets into the digital age.
But the other thing that interested me is there's a thousand people in this factory -- this company, this building in India -- who are between the ages of 18 and 23. And they're spending their entire lives looking through this one-way mirror at the happiest moments of our lives in this completely different culture. These are kids that are one step out of poverty. So you just think of how media is changing the way that we perceive the world.
But imagine growing up -- the guy who runs the Scan Café has hired young people who are one step out of poverty. These are not the people you see at the call centers. They're people that only speak whatever the local language is there, but they spend all day long looking at our birthdays, our bar mitzvahs, our weddings, our holidays. But they're from a culture that so much of this is foreign, and they're looking at these sort of happy memories. I thought it would be a great -- just sociologically so interesting of how we're peering at each other through these digital looking glasses.
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