What to do with all my stuff?

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by brass majestic, Jun 19, 2012.

  1. brass majestic

    brass majestic Member

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    I'm getting a little "long in the tooth" these days and I've been thinking in recent years about all the negatives I've shot and all the prints I've made from those negatives over the past several decades. And there are still more negatives to print. It seems I'll never catch up. I can't count the times I've laid half awake in the morning when a forgotten shot I'd made years before suddenly surfaces to my consciousness. I jump up and make a quick note to print it. I've been lucky enough to sell many of my prints over the years to collectors and individuals wanting to add to the decor of their homes or offices. I have a closet full of boxes of prints that have never sold along with copies or editions of the prints that have. And my concern is what am I going to do with all with all these prints? Or more to the point - what's going to happen to them after I croak? My family and friends wouldn't have a clue what to do with them. There is a big dumpster in the parking lot that I'm more aware of every time I walk past. I try not to walk past. Is that the fate of the hours and years of darkroom slavery to the perfecting of the balances of blacks, grays and whites and almost always just getting close to perfect but not perfect? Some or most are of no value except to the realized fulfillment of an impulse re-created. They seem important to me and relevant to my life and very existence. They say 'I was here and I did this'. Other prints - the ones sold or gifted - seemed important to those people. So I'm curious and I wonder if some of you have had or are having these kind of thoughts. What's going to happen with your work?
     
  2. Chrismat

    Chrismat Subscriber

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    I have exactly the same thoughts. I never had children, so I don't have anyone to pass my items down to and even if I did they may not have had any interest in receiving them anyway. I suppose my negs and slides will be disposed of. My cameras I may be able to sell or donate if film is still being used 20 or 30 years from now.
     
  3. jcoldslabs

    jcoldslabs Member

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    I have the same worries and thoughts, but I try not to think about it too much. I would love to know that my work might survive my death somehow, but I figure if I am overwhelmed by my own collection of negatives, prints and transparencies anyone else will be ten times as burdened. I fully expect the bulk of my photographic output to end up in the trash. Lucky for me I'll (likely) be dead when this happens!

    Jonathan
     
  4. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    The creations of man are ephemeral, no less than man.
     
  5. NB23

    NB23 Member

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    This is very depressing.

    In truth, it's all BS. All the time spent in the darkroom printing a moment in time, a masterpiece supposed to live forever, is in fact just good time spent with yourself for that brief moment.

    Oh well.
     
  6. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

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    Not sure about "depressing", but otherwise, well said. It's exactly how I look at it (which is not necessarily a depressing view).
     
  7. M Stat

    M Stat Member

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    Look at it this way. Just figure that after you are gone you will be discovered and hailed as a great photographic artist. If that doesn't happen, so what. You'll be dead.
     
  8. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    I bought couple of old photos on flea market that are more than 100 years old. Guy who sold them to me for small money did not had anything with those photos.

    You can give bunch of your prints to some guys for free on flea market - let them circulate - they will be going from place to place long after you are gone :smile:

    About negatives: if you don't have kids - maybe some other relative, or some kids from friends, or something...
     
  9. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Let me just add one thing: I think that it works best if it skips one generation. Kids are not so interested in this generation as grandchildren will be.

    I would be also more interested in negatives from my grandparents (if there are any) than my parents.
     
  10. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    A few years ago I read in the local paper about the case of a Photographer from The West Midlands in the UK. His hobby was to walk the industrial canals from about the time of WW2 until about the 1980s. He used glass plates for most of this time - and recorded the history of the canals and their decline as far as industry and commerce was concerned. A few prints survive of the people and places, long gone, that he photographed. The canal heritage people heard about him and tried to track him down. He had recently died - and they managed to contact his widow about 3 weeks after she had dumped his entire life's work at the Council tip.
     
  11. DesertNate

    DesertNate Member

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    Type a brief bio of yourself, what you shoot, why you shoot it, and how the process is important to you. A bit about your origins is good. Keep this information in multiple copies with your prints, for instance on the back of each print. Matte your favorites. Treat them as valuables, and others are likely to do the same. Cast them in a heap in the attic, and they'll be treated like old garbage, regardless of your print quality or aesthetics. Half of art is salesmanship. Treat your stuff as though you're the undiscovered Ansel Adams, and your stuff is more likely to be appreciated.
     
  12. ambaker

    ambaker Subscriber

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    I haven't been think about this in terms of myself. But, I always feel a little sad, when I go into a shop and see old photographs, especially portraits. These were important to someone once. That person was important to someone once. Now just a bit of faded paper on a shop shelf.

    I sometimes think about getting old negatives, and printing them, so they will live one more time.

    Funny the things you think before the first cup of coffee, in the morning. ;-)
     
  13. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    Leave instructions in your will. If nothing else, it will make your family and friends happy that you left them something other than just that fortune they were expecting. As far as getting "long in the tooth" you might think about trading prints for periodontal treatment.

    Seriously, enjoy what you are doing and keep doing it for as long as you can .... it will keep you young.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
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  15. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    I do that often. Also often I make pictures of fading photos on grave stones and print them.

    There is a beauty in passing and fading, and showing this is also one of my personal goals.
     
  16. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    As a fellow old fart, I understand the impulse to worry about what will be left. If the art world is at all consistant however (BIG if), your work will be worth a lot more money after you die, so leave it in good shape for whomever does your estate. If the photos you have now (printed and not printed) are not in your way, worry more about adding to the riches than you worry about getting rid of them. Take joy in creation, whether it is through printing that early morning recollection of an almost forgotten negative or in going out and shooting more! The junk in your garage (lawn mower, old clothing, books, bric-a-brac from yard sales, etc.) will be more of a difficulty and undoubtably take up more room than your photos. You speak of having had people wish to display your work. Why do you think that will end when you are no longer around to make any more?

    I think the need to throw away what we have created is always with us. Good editing practices are necessary, but you should fight the urge to purge. You took those shots and made those prints because you thought they were worth having. Buyers have proven you correct over the years. Don't start second guessing them. Yes, all we do is ephemeral–– even crap, if you want to push it–– but I believe that is no reason to make it's short life any shorter by adding to a landfill.
     
  17. Zewrak

    Zewrak Member

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    I'll take them. :surprised:
     
  18. Grif

    Grif Member

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    I'm trying to put notes on the neg pages, and info on the back of the prints. Tagging the goodies in the shop and home. Talking to the kids about stuff now. Only person I know who did a good job of that was my Grandmother. It made the whole process so much easier, and things went to folks both in and out of the family that would appreciate them. (Sorry about the non-photo content,,, but that's likely more of your life than just the photos).
     
  19. LumbisK

    LumbisK Member

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    I know one of our local long-term professional photographers gave a lot of his stuff to the local museum. In addition to portraits, he also shot a lot of street photography and different events and they were happy to have them. I know from having helped go through my wife's father's photographic legacy, I myself will try to be more diligent in labelling stuff. He was an avid 35mm colour slide photographer so there were boxes and boxes of slides that had to be quickly sorted through in order to determine what the family wanted to keep. A lot of it was work related and had little meaning as we didn't know what he was trying to show in the slides or its importance.

    What about an old fart like myself who is still accumulating? May be looking at a Mamiya RB67 Pro S with two lenses and 3 backs for a super price tomorrow. I don't know if I can resist.

    Oh well may we all have long active lives to practice our passion and enjoy our accumulations.
     
  20. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    What about a time capsule? Stuff it all in a vapor proof container, charge with inert gas and bury it someplace.

    I'm a newbie old fart. I have had the same thoughts as you with drawers full of negs, slides and prints and Cd after CD. No children and only 1 niece, never more to come. My feeling is there really is no loss in life; You just haven't experienced the real benefit till after death. My personal stuff, except for whatever family pictures there are, will be donated to the local garbage burning electric generation plant.
     
  21. PeterAM

    PeterAM Member

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    As a certified old fart I've thought about this once or twice. Just yesterday, I found a bunch of negatives and prints from a photography course that I took in college (50 years ago) and had sunk to the bottom of a closet. I was looking at the negs on a light box last night and have decided to scan/print some (darkroom went a while back, along with my lower back). Because of the nature of the project assignments for the course, there are pictures that were shot all over the campus, at frat parties and of the ex-girlfriends/wives of friends. There's even a set of portraits that someone else shot of me. The thought crossed my mind that maybe the school would like some of them for their archives, but my wife thinks that I'd have to donate a building to get them to take the pictures.

    As far as the rest of my art/legacy goes, I'm lucky in that one of my children is into photography (including a BFA/MFA) and we work with/help each other; I expect that she would take the archive. My son has some of my work hanging in his house and, at least two of the grandkids appear to be interested in art/photography. Maybe my works will avoid the dumpster for a generation or two.
     
  22. labyrinth photo

    labyrinth photo Member

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    i think the vivian maier story should be an inspiration to many amateur photographers in as much that anybody's photographs can be rediscovered and tell thousands of stories to a new generation. maybe through this forum you could find someone who you could pass your legacy onto, or potentially a local museum/institution or school/college.
     
  23. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

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    brass majestic,

    Since you live in Michigan, why not donate your photo collection to the The Bentley Historical Museum at the University of Michigan? http://bentley.umich.edu/ They have many of my images (and some that my father took as well).
     
  24. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    The value and "accessibility" of the collection/filing-boxes/heap-in-the-attic would be much improved with the who-when-where-what-why notes for every neg-sheet (and I am sure that was in the wrong order).

    There have been people mentioned in the local press, with 'probably' useful collections, who have been turned down by local museums due to the huge amount of work needed in deciphering and cataloguing the material - especially in the present economic climate that cannot possibly be done. If the material is mostly local in nature then the content is probably already covered. Sad but true.

    On the other hand, you could also make a side collection of stuff which is special in some way, and that would most likely also be more practical to catalogue yourself . . . even to exhibit it while you still can??
     
  25. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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    When you die, your wife's next husband will throw it all out.

    Sooo... Now is the time to give it away. Frame the best and give them to friends and family members. You will get great joy from their smiles. When you visit them, you might see those pictures hanging on their walls. They will become the caretakers of your work. You will make others happy and become happier yourself.

    Otherwise it's just vanity.
     
  26. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Rafal Lukawiecki Subscriber

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    Brass Majestic, what you wrote, you wrote so beautifully, but I can't help feeling sadness.