When color photography began taking over black-and- white in the 1950s and ‘60s, experts knew a secret few other people knew: Unlike black-and-white photography, color film and paper were not permanent. (This is one reason my business consisted of exclusively black and white photographs for many years.) Today, 30, 40 and 50 years later, we find ourselves with millions of discolored and faded color photos.
I am even seeing badly faded or discolored color prints less than 20 years old. Fortunately, research has provided us with the capability to save and restore them. In the photo restoration process we can print on acid-free paper with permanent pigment-based inks that will last for hundreds of years.
In restoring old and faded photographs, I am really involved in preserving memories. It is much more than saving visual images from disappearing out of sight. This emphasis on the preserving of memories is not limited to photography, however. It can apply to the business and professional world as well.
For instance, sometimes a company achieves success by focusing on a clear mission, a specific market or particular niche within its industry. Over time, however, heightened expectations, ambition, deadlines, even greed can cause the business’s leaders to lose sight of the basis for their success. Pursuing bigger profits or an expanded market, memories of how and why they got to where they are begin to fade.
This can happen for individuals as well. People embark on their chosen careers infused with a sense of purpose and armed with noble ideas. These motivations, however, can become forgotten – even cast aside – while ascending the corporate ladder. Short-term gains disable long-term memories.
With this in mind, it can be extremely useful to make a concerted effort to protect valued corporate and professional memories and keep them from fading. That is why mission statements – along with periodic leadership meetings, where we can ask questions such as, “Why are we here?” “What are we about?” and “What is really important to us?” – can yield much value.
The Bible also talks about the importance of keeping memories from fading. The nation of Israel was especially prone to letting memories fade during times of peace and prosperity. Here are some principles from the Scriptures about the importance of saving and preserving cherished memories:
Remember victories of the past. We can become so obsessed with the future that we fail to appreciate the triumphs of our past – and how they came about. “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them” (Deut. 4:9).
Remember the source of your success. As time passes, memories can fade and we forget the help and resources we received en route to our current levels of success. “Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build your fine houses and settle down…then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Deuteronomy 8:11-14).
Jim Mathis owns a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, and operates a school of photography. Jim is the author of High Performance Cameras for Ordinary People, a book on digital photography. He formerly was a coffee shop manager, and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.
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1. Do you have any photographs that have become discolored or faded over the years? What is the effect when you look at the old images that no longer retain their sharpness or vivid colors?
2. Does the analogy of seeking to restore fading photographs to the importance of striving to preserve original corporate or personal values, goals and values make sense to you? Do you agree with this comparison?
3. Can you offer any examples of organizations – or individuals – that have lost sight of the principles upon which they became established and found success?
4. The biblical examples cited talk about the nation of Israel, once it had achieved peace and prosperity, losing its reverence for and devotion to God. What are your thoughts about this?
If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages:
Deuteronomy 8:19-20, 25:17-19; Psalm 103:2; Mark 8:14-21; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25