Photo opportunity

The new year has caused me to take a look back.

I just realized I began my career in the n e w s p a p e r business exactly 20 years ago in Jan. 2001.

When I first started working as a reporter for Gateway Newspapers’ line of weekly community newspapers — which, a few years later, was purchased and integrated into the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review family of newspapers — one of my duties was to drive to the local Giant Eagle near the intersection with Interstate 576 in Robinson, Pa. to pick up photos at their lab.

As difficult as it may be to believe, our photographers were still loading their cameras with film one year into the 21st century.

Our photographers finally moved into the digital age a couple of years later and we were able to cut out the supermarket middle man.

Do people even take photographs using actual film these days?

I’m guessing that’s going to be a “no.”

The days of dropping off a roll of film at the local drug store or Fotomat (remember those?) are long gone.

Since photos are so easy to take in the 21st century — we all have photo studios built into our phones these days, for goodness sake — photos are taken of everything not usually fitting the description of “photogenic.”

Did you have a great ham sandwich for lunch yesterday?

It’s more likely than not to end up posted on your Facebook or Twitter page with the hashtag #GreatHamSandwich.

With the ease of taking digital photos, they’re now stored on hard drives instead of in photo albums.

Thank goodness there are still an armful of photo albums, year by year, at my parents’ house.

I think something may unequivocally be lost in the experience if I had to plug a hard drive into my laptop to relive my glory years.

Or maybe I’m just old.

But everything’s not all bad about digital photos.

It certainly makes it easier for readers to send me photos or retrieve them from parish Facebook pages for publication in The Byzantine Catholic World.

They’re also much more durable than photos printed on paper.

The Archeparchy of Pittsburgh’s Chancery is taking another step into the digital age.

Very Rev. Vasyl Polyak, Chancellor and pastor at SS. Peter and Paul in Tarentum, Pa., has been working at the Chancery for the past few months, taking digital photos of baptismal, wedding and funeral registers obtained from parishes of the Archeparchy.

He has a photo studio set up near his desk and computer, complete with lights and a tripod to keep his camera steady to take the best digital photos of each page.

Two days each week he takes photos of each page of each book — covering 1972 to the present year — and stores them on an external hard drive.

Near the end of January, he told me he was about 70 percent completed with the project.

The photos will be invaluable to future generations if anything should ever happen to the registers.

Very Rev. Vasyl’s work will certainly pay off — likely in many unexpected ways — in future years.

Perhaps I should refer to it as a “photo opportunity.”