I have a problem - my art is as disorganized as a hurricanes aftermath.
What generally happens is, I'll go out and shoot a couple rolls of film (or a couple memory cards), and then I'll develop said rolls (or upload to a hard drive), and then one or two shots from each will get selected for print (or editing). The rest never see the light of day. Furthermore, not a single negative is marked, not a single file is named, and there are no categories set up to separate the negatives or files into an organized, easy-to-find manner.
Yesterday I was trying to choose a negative to print for the postcard exchange, and had to look through an entire binder full of negative sheets to decide which one I wanted. I took each individual sheet out, held it up to the light and tried to decipher when it was shot, what the subject matter was, and then choose a single image.
I *REALLY* want to get a hold of things and get organized, but I absolutely cannot figure out a system. Numbering? Key words? Date? Should I keep all rolls together, or mix in match depending on subject matter? Camera used for each roll? Film size?
Last edited by ChristopherCoy; 11-08-2012 at 10:52 AM. Click to view previous post history.
For my physical negative filing sysytem I am banal, but it works.
Films get developed.
After hung and dried the films are cut and put into filer sleeves. 35mm, 120 (in 3 verticals for the TLR or 4 3's horizontal for folders etc.) or 4x5.
If it is b&w the type of developer, dilution, time and temp gets written on the top of the filer page with a fine tipped sharpie marker. Sometimes films get stockpiled waiting for enough to make a batch worth mixing up some e-6 or c-41 to use it to its full capacity. E-6 and c-41 might get the replenishement sequence noted on the filer page if I am in the mood to try to see if the image degrades excessively by re-usung the chemistry too much.
They get put into a binder called 'contact printing backlog', generally in the order in which they are shot. With multiple cameras on the go this is not always feasible.
They get assigned a year and month number and stuck into the binder, regardless of type: B&W sits beside e-6 and c-41.
Then after the backlogs are all cleared, the month sequence number is added. So the fourth film in about chronological order processed this month becomes 2012-11-4. The individual frame numbers finish the index, reference or , if the film is not not frame numbered (arista, some cinema stocks) they become referenced as things like row 3 frame 2. 4x5 go four to a filer pages and become A, B C and D.
The next time I am printing that process, I pull all of the backlogged films of that type, and make contact sheets. E-6 gets contacted as negatives with some old no longer fully black monochrome RA-4 paper when I have the roller processor revved up to print from colour negs.
The contact sheet gets the film negative page reference written on it, and the back of the page gets notes of anything unique I wish to recall about where I was. it also gets any model releases for images on that paged taped to it. The now contacted pages go back into the contact sheet backlog binder, and stay there until most of the other filer pages of their era are finished up. Then every few months or longer, they get transferred out to a year binder.
The year binder has a clear plastic front and rear slip in cover that allows a a hand written index to be compiled and slid in. This index could be computerized and more searchable, but so far I have not gone that path. The index notes the number of the film, the film format ( 35, 120, 4x5, or other ) then the process (b&w, e-6, c-41, or other), then a general description of what is on that film/page.
The filer pages go in the three ring binder behind the contact sheet. Some filers have a sleeve for the contact, but usually they are too pricey, and I just punch the contahc sheet carefully so an 8x10 fits to the holes more commonly meant for 8.5x11.
The index sheet frequently extends to half way onto the back of the binder. I use 1.5" thick D ring binders. I have about 6' of shelf space of them now. For the last few years I have needed a first half and second half of the year binders for any given year.
The system is imperfect, but usually I can recall about when I took an image, and find it with the negative in my hands in less than 10 minutes.
Most of the contact printing is done when I am tired and just housecleaning in the darkroom.
Printing better enalrgement prints usually waits until I am more rested, which typically means more inspired.
my real name, imagine that.
My digital indexing (mostly of non artistic day job work) is hard to get organized on.
I use ACDSee to print a contact page, with file nemes under each image and then scrawl notes around the remaining white space.
Images get downloaded and renamed for the day they are downloaded. Less than perfect, but it gives you some clue whe the snaps were taken, becuase they then to get dumped every few days, and the metadata can get you closer date if needed. Mostly they are construction progress documentation photos.
my real name, imagine that.
My film gets put in print file sheets and labeled on the top as to subjects and date. All are put in a binder in approximate chronological order and are separated by film size and type - ie, I have binders for 35mm B&W, 35mm E6, 35mm C-41, 120 B&W.... I mix Hasselblad and P645N in the same binder (with Holga and folders that take 120). Each roll of film gets a number based on order and the contact sheet for that roll gets that number on the back. The contact sheets are usually way out of order and in various piles.
The system isn't great, but I can usually find a neg fairly quickly. There are also post-its sticking to some rolls with shots I know I like and want to print again.
I have started (then stopped but started again) to do small resolution scans of each page on negatives. I use a flatbed scanner that takes 4 x 6 neg strips at a time so that part is quite quick. No after work is done on them as it is not necessary and transfer the results onto a memory stick with the main subject as a title for each file. I lable each page after scanning with a number and add that number into the corresponding file on the memory stick.
I have several thousands of negs, both B&W and colour to do, so it may, sorry, will take a while to complete. But already I have an easy record of what I take and it doesn't take long to find something I am looking for. An 8 gig stick will certainly take all my files with ease.
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I put the contact sheets with the negative pages. Contacts on the left, negatives on the right when I open to a page. Negative pages have date/description/camera/lens. Contact prints get scribbled on, marked up , etc..
My physical storage is just printfile sleeves in a binder with a numbered index tab for each sheet. Black and white and slide film go into the same binder in the order I put them in, so things get somewhat out of order as the slide film goes to the lab every few months while B&W is done shortly after I shoot it. I just number my rolls 2012-XXX so 2012-025 is my 25th roll this year.
I scan all my film and import it into Lightroom which is where I keyword it all. My digital library is a disaster but I keep my film scans in their own library and have managed to keep up on the keywording. I also create collections for my different projects so I can keep track of them.
Paged, put in binders, and the binders are labeled with date range and theme. It's simple and reasonably effective.
I keep all my stuff in the house somewhere.
Originally Posted by Steve Smith
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