the future of (my) photography

# 4224

# 4224

On this day, in 1970, the number one song in the USA (according to Billboard) was “Bridge over Troubled Waters” by Simon and Garfunkel.  Having not heard this song in quite a while I listened to it again and it still is as fresh and beautiful as it was back then.  A piece of pop art that has endured for over 43 years (and counting).  It’s a nice idea to think that our own work will be appreciated over a long period of time but I don’t think it’s the case for many of us.  I’m not convinced blog posts are a good way of keeping records and neither is passing these files down to our descendants.   Archival prints (stored properly) is probably the best way to maintain  photos but printing and storing would probably fill an entire file cabinet (at least in my case) and cost a small fortune.    I could fill a couple of 4T hard drive, too, but who wants that.  And who will be able to read it 20 years from now? They would be like the old floppy disks from a bygone era.  

I’ve decided to donate all of my work, both physical and virtual, to a Museum.  What museum would want it?  A museum that collected nothing but personal art from families that want it preserved.  A museum that would take care of it and display the best, probably on a site available to all, free of charge.  A museum for the people that appreciate good works from those that never became famous for those works.  A museum for painters, photographers, sculptors, writers, musicians, dancers, actors, magicians and any artist that has a record that needs to be preserved.  A museum that does not exist today but should in the future.

I haven’t filed this under “stupid ideas” yet, but maybe I should.  I like pie even if it’s in the sky.

side note:  the song that replaced “Bridge over Troubled Waters” as No. 1 was “Let it Be” by the Beatles.

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26 thoughts on “the future of (my) photography

  1. LensScaper

    You’ve vocalised an important point. When our family gets together and the discussion turns to grandparents and further back, out come the old fuzzy sepia tinged and faded prints that cost nothing to preserve. How different from today when a colossal percentage of images never leave the device on which they are taken. To preserve those is going to be a colossal headache, and expense, for future generations. Digital is often sold on the basis that shooting images costs nothing – preserving them and buying the media to store them all could be a huge hidden cost.

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      Right, Andy. I’m not 100% convinced cloud storage is the answer, either but I can visualize a genealogy site where a family can upload any number of files for safekeeping. A person can pay a one-time fee and upload the most important files of their choice and pass that on to descendants. That way no one fights for the “old fuzzy sepia tinged and faded prints” and every family member has access.

      Reply
  2. Paul Maxim

    I agree. I’ve thought about this particular problem a lot and there doesn’t seem to be an easy answer. When I disappear, I know of no one in my family (other than my wife) who will care one iota about what might be on my computer or external hard drives. All those images will face imminent extinction. In the overall scheme of things, not a major loss for humanity. But on a personal level it’s a bit disturbing. Who knows – maybe someone will build that museum.

    I really like the image, Ken. You’d think all of those nearly white tones would be less than interesting, but then you see the slightly darker trees and house in the lower left and there’s context.

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, Paul. When I processed this with my normal Lightroom default settings, I couldn’t see this. But all I did was adjust the clarity to a lower setting and the brightness slightly higher and this is the result. It’s more of what I actually saw. Sometimes you have to look beyond the high resolution that the camera gives you.

      I think most artists secretly like the idea of immortality, or at least a part of themselves that lives on beyond their own existence. It’s a natural thing to want to be remembered beyond your years but I think you have to have this discussion with your family to make your wishes clear. Even then, I’m not sure if there is any good solution to the problem.

      Reply
  3. John Linn

    Ken, Unlike you I am too cheap to pay for WordPress and file serving services. My Google Blogger site is free and implied is that it would always be free (after all Google goal is to store EVERYTHING). Does this mean that 20, 30 or even 100 years from now… long after I am no longer breathing… that my blog photos will still be searchable on whatever they then call the web? Not to say anyone will be interested, but in a sense those files and images could last much longer than I will.

    I agree with Paul… the image is a really nice and a good example of using negative space affectingly.

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, John. WordPress has a free service, open and available to everyone. That’s why they have so many followers. I think you might be referring to their Premium service, for which there is a charge. Not sure how much as I am using the free service, as you are with Google. I like to think it’s archival as you say, but I have my doubts.

      Reply
  4. Linda Grashoff

    I love all that white and the subtle colors. I also love where you put the horizon line. My eye moves over the horizon as it does over a line of words. Really nice.

    Reply
  5. John - Visual Notebook

    That’s a beautiful shot, Ken! I don’t know about preserving everything I’ve ever done, but if I’d taken the shot above, it would definitely go on archival paper and the file would be available to family.

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      Thanks, John. In my case, there is really only a very small percentage that might be of interest to anyone. That’s probably what should be printed up.

      Reply
  6. disperser

    Assuming most of what we do is for our own enjoyment, perhaps it’s best our small contribution fades when we do.

    I have no illusions regarding the longevity of what I post. There is so much out there, so many photos, so much writing, that it would be irrational to think all but a few would be interested in any particular bit. When I fade, and subsequently, they fade, the memories of each of us will fade as well.

    Even if something does survive (for example, there are letters from Civil War Soldiers that make it into museums), anyone reading them would not really know the person, but only a tiny bit of the total they were.

    Ultimately, I’m happy to entertain a few with what is, first and foremost, something I do for myself.

    Reply
  7. Paul

    Maybe you should apply for a grant for such a place. I’ve thought about that, too. When I die, no one will give a rip about what’s on my hard drive, and I’m OK with that. Sure, they’ll say that I took ‘nice pictures’, or perhaps say that I was a good photographer, but, in the end, perhaps only few pictures will survive.

    The photography, primarily, is for me. Sure, I like going back through the archives and surprising people with photos from back in the day, but that’s about it.

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      My photography is for myself also, but it would be nice if others will be able to see it in the future. I have no delusions about it, though. No one will miss it when it’s gone.

      Reply
  8. Steve Schwartzman

    By coincidence, when I was lying in bed this morning, I thought about the same thing: who am I going to leave all my tens of thousands of photographs to? I have no children, and I don’t know that any niece or nephew would be interested. Hmmm….

    Reply
  9. Steve Schwartzman

    Your “study in white” photograph, by the way, with its big sky, reminds me of the snow-covered way I first saw the Finger Lakes region in around December of 1970. I lived there for the first half of 1971 and took a lot of (mostly) black and white photographs with the Pentax Spotmatic I’d gotten from Panama in 1969. The two songs you mentioned are forever tied to that period in my mind.

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      I came this close (I’m holding two fingers almost together) to buying the Spotmatic when I was in the service. I had to work a double shift the day all the cameras were brought in to the BX and they were all sold out for the year by the time I got there.
      I have fond memories of both songs as well.

      Reply
  10. Pingback: Enough Awesome Photography Links to Sink a Ship

  11. ehpem

    I really like the photo – a lot like a water colour, and an effective composition too.

    And I love your idea for a museum like that. A few months ago I bought a Canon G4 in thrift shop for 10$ – I got it for the memory cards (there were several, a couple of a useful size) and a small card reader (which did not work). What I did not anticipate was 10 years of family photos – three girls growing from about ~8 to ~18, holidays in Mexico, Christmases at grandparents house, pictures of my very own neighbourhood, of things I photograph.
    I could not bear to wipe those cards clean, what if they were the only copies? It looked like someone just bought new cards when the old ones were filling up, or bought larger cards for trips and abandoned the smaller ones. So, what do I do with them? Your museum would be perfect.

    Reply
    1. oneowner Post author

      That’s the perfect reason to have that Museum in the clouds! It’s a shame that the people how could really identify with those photos can’t appreciate them. Maybe families don’t value photos as much as they used to. I hate the thought of that but things change and people change too.

      Reply

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