What Will Become of Our Photographs?

I found this roll of film in with an old camera my wife gave me. It is unlikely I will have it processed, and even if I did, the images would probably be without context and meaningless.
I found this roll of film in with an old camera my wife gave me. It is unlikely I will have it processed, and even if I did, the images would probably be without context and meaningless.

A fellow photographer and I got into a very interesting discussion recently as I was walking my dogs.

I have a lot of interesting discussions while walking my dogs, since I can put in my ear buds and slip my phone into my back pocket, then talk through stuff as the Wolfhound and the Chuahuahua take their turns around the patch.

The discussion was about the ultimate disposition of our creative work, especially photographs, for both of us, but also my writing. What will become of it all after we are gone?

I told my friend that my first box to check in preserving my vision was to get as many images as I could printed in the newspaper. That was an easy one for me to check off and continue to check off as my newspaper and I thrive.

He said that he had thought about archiving all of his photographs digitally and blasting them into space, to be found ten trillion years later by the Blargons.

Here's a safe bet: not only has this picture been done better than this, it's probably been done better than this today.
Here’s a safe bet: not only has this picture been done better than this, it’s probably been done better than this today.

Then we sort of settled into the idea that some photographers have made themselves extendedly remembered (though not “immortalized” and all that word entails) by creating large, archival prints of their photographs and selling them throughout the world. The great Ansel Adams comes to mind. You can go to Washington D.C. or Moscow or Santa Fe and see his work, in a form that will last for many years, real, tangible silver photographic prints.

Yet even those will someday be dust.

Also, what photographs are the most significant? Nature and landscape? Portraits? “Fine Art”? News and sports?

As we spoke, he spotted a sunset shot and hung up to make a picture.

Thus, is that the real art and value of the creative things we do? The process? Is our work in writing, photography, sculpting, music, painting, teaching, film making, acting …  really just building sand castles?

I know we are all taking a lot of pictures, and I know we all see a lot of pictures every day. Does that huge number of images dilute and diminish each one?
I know we are all taking a lot of pictures, and I know we all see a lot of pictures every day. Does that huge number of images dilute and diminish each one?

2 Comments

  1. Someone will repurpose some of your images and text into collage art or maybe art journals…

  2. I donated boxes of negatives, and DVDs of of photos to our local historical society that I shot for the paper along with a logbook so they can find stuff.

    Each DVD has a plain text file log of all the images on them, along with previous years since the text files are so small. That way if an older DVD is lost the log won’t be lost too.

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