Monday, September 10, 2007


Perhaps I'm just being morbid after my recent health issues thankfully doing much better but have you given any thought to what happens to your photographic work if (as the British put it)pop your clogs, go to that great darkroom in the sky, expire, breathe your last, move to another plane, or just plain die?

For all photographers of whatever skill and degree of professionalism (ie. making money in photography), there are the issues of accessing family snapshots. It's likely those will have far more interest for future generations than any of our lovely sports or landscape pictures. Does anyone else in the family have a clue where in your computer you keep said images and how they are organized so they could find something.

For those of you with some important images, have you made a durable archival portfolio that is likely to survive relatives cleaning up after you - or are your images (like mine) in just another printing paper box with no label and no system?

If you actually sell your work, is there a way for your relatives to access this work to sell prints already made or to make new prints. Perhaps they could use the money.

After all, what if you become famous the month after you pop off - how dumb would it be if no one could find your prints to put together a New York Retrospective. Sure you won't be around to enjoy it, but others will, and talk about leaving your mark.

Can I suggest that you and I do the following:

1) write up some simple instructions letting family know how and where you store your images and if they are digital, how to make more prints and on what paper at which settings. Even if, like my wife, your spouse is a luddite (completely computer illiterate), the instructions can always be passed on to someone else. If you have portfolios already made up, it wouldn't hurt in the same instructions to mention where. Does anyone know where you keep your backups? Today I brought a 500 gig external drive to work which has all the raw files from the last four years of work. I used a felt pen on the drive to label it. At home I have another unplugged drive backing up all my final images. It too has a label.

2) Make a master set of prints from your important images, the ones you'd save first in a fire, buy some portfolio boxes from Light Impressions Direct and Label the boxes so they don't need pawed over to find out approximately what's in there.

1 comment:

Billie Mercer said...

George, you are so right. I'm older than you and I have this fear that when I'm gone my kids will not know what to do with all the prints, negs (of which I have considerable)and digital files (of which the storage devices will become outdated) etc. While they might hang on to them for a while, eventually they will go to the dump.

I'm currently scanning images from a Mexican church project that I did that the negs are now 10-15 years old. I started scanning them at 1200 dpi because my thought was that I'd do a book with the images and that size would be big enough but I've been wondering if I should be scanning them larger.

And the other issue for me is that going back and doing this isn't nearly as interesting as making new images. I challenge myself to scan so many a week but tomorrow I'll have 4 new rolls from the Holga and I doubt if I can force myself to work on the old negs until I've played with the new ones.

Getting organized is hard to do.