Does the Archivist exist anymore?
I was reading a story in the WSJ about the demise of Kodak and there was a mention about how so in the 50’s and that era, women were the main market segment, i.e., press the button and we will do the rest was largely marketed to the “soccer mom” of the era. Back in that period (the article contends) women were the ones who predominantly photographed, had the negs printed and ultimately archived the prints in albums to be shared with friends
I never really thought of that, but yes it makes sense, I remember my mom was the archivist when I was a kid, so I wonder if “The Archivist” exists anymore or does it exist but has morphed into other means, still largely female dominated (i.e. scrapbooking, Pinterest)?
To extend the discussion that PKM-25 led last week re the future of photography, lets just discuss the future of archiving family memories. Is it alive and well but just done mostly digitally (FB, Flickr, Pinterest) and some analog (scrapbook’rs) and a mini population of printers like many of us here? It seems to me, that scrapbooking is a major industry now with folks (mostly women) taking prints and merging them with other aspects to archive. I see scrapbooking stores at malls now, so maybe the shift is here, but maybe it is a trend. Either way, I say bring it on, scrapbooking is an analog pursuit of sorts (although not something that interests me).
Lets keep this discussion to more generic family memories archiving discussion and out of scope will be professional archiving, how to scan/backup, how scrapbook’rs might use digi tools, what Kodak should have done, and other things that seem off of the main question, which is: Does “The Archivist” exists anymore or does it exist but has morphed into other means, still largely female dominated (i.e. scrapbooking, Pinterest)?
WSJ article I mention above:
Last edited by zsas; 03-11-2012 at 03:31 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: fix link
Interesting discussion Andy. My mom was the archivist of our family as well, we have dozens of photo albums that she put together through the years. However, I was probably the only one who ever looked at them. She was/is also the one who frames pictures for use around the house. But now that digital has arrived, the only thing she knows how to do is put the photos from her camera onto the computer. She doesn't know how to put those photos on disk, or to a digital photo frame, or even how to get the photos printed at Walmart. My dad is even worse when it comes to this stuff (he has no interest in computers). So the number of photos being "archived" in any way is really small. The only time photos get printed is when I go home and print them (and possibly frame them as well). I did a Blurb book of my nephews for them because I wanted them to have photos in some hardcopy form and my brother/sister-in-law live in a digital-only household. I don't know if gender has anything to do with archiving, because I'm the only one in my family doing anything -- and that has to do with my interest in photography and photos in general.
Even though this is a personal anecdote, I think it illustrates that when things are easy (drop off film, pick up negatives and prints) it's quite easy to archive because the materials are right there. I know that for many photographers that digital has given them more control over the process, but for the regular point-and-shooters, I think it must be overwhelming -- have to (but probably don't) deal with colour (and other kinds of) correction, cropping/aspect ratios, choosing paper/inks, etc. It's too much work and probably easier just to keep things on the computer, or on sites like Flickr. And although I think (?) that scrapbooking is still popular, I think that it's being replaced by print-on-demand books, which is a much more gender-neutral method of archiving.
My favorite thing is to go where I've never been. D. Arbus
The "archivist" in my family just kept throwing them in the same cardboard box for a few decades. But, I have the box.
The New Archivist is a Computer and a Cloud
For years and years my wife was the archivist, and primary documentary photographer of the household. When I was a kid it was my mom. Pre-digital it was all done on inexpensive point and shoot 35mm cameras and the prints were carefully stored away in photo albums. Those albums went on shelves and once in a while we would get them out after dinner and sit around the dining room table looking at pictures. In some strange way it was one of the ways we affirmed our relationships with friends and family. But digital has killed that.
When digital came along my wife was the early adopter in this house. She was using 1 and 3 megapixel point and shoot cameras while I was still stubbornly holding onto my K1000. She started learning and working with the early versions of Paint Shop Pro, cleaning up and enlarging pictures for anyone in the family. Her work was very, very good, especially considering the limited technology. Her biggest complaints were that those early digital cameras were heavy duty battery hogs. But eventually all that changed. The software and camera companies changed things so often and so fast that it just became impossible to keep up. After about the fifth or sixth upgrade my wife finally gave up. She still shoots a roll of 35mm film from time to time but she has turned most of the archiving over to me because my work keeps me linked to the computer. She hasn't touched her digital in years. I pulled the batteries a couple years ago as I was afraid they would corrode. I know that part of this is related to age. As you get older it seems harder and harder to learn new things. Even for me it seems that things are moving too fast, and my business requires that I stay connected and up-to-date.
I know that there are far more ways to share things today. I see Facebook, You Tube, and now Vimeo, and at one level it is all wonderful. You can find out so much in such a short time. These on-line social communities have become the new archivist for our brave new world, and hopefully everything will work out. But my grandchildren are missing out on that chance to sit around their dining room tables and learning about the past and future relationships that are important to their family. Instead it is all about 'Friends" that they never really seem to know. It makes me feel a bit sad. But I guess it is progress. In my parents day it was the family bible. In my day it was the photo album. Today it is the social networking sites on-line.
Progress continues whether we like it or not. The archivist is now a computer and a cloud. There are millions more images floating around out there in that cloud but I think we have lost some of the context that existed in that old Family Bible and our Photo Albums.
Maybe it's a computer geek thing, but I've not been particularly happy with scans that other people have done with my 35mm slides. So I scan them myself. I've never been happy with the stability of prints I've printed on my inkjet printer, so I don't print at home. The ones I want printed get scanned and uploaded to a web site and I order prints from there. Easy and convenient. I don't pay shipping because I can go to the store and pick up my order when it's convenient for me to do so.
B&W prints from paper negatives I do in a completely analog fashion - they get contact printed.
Facebook/flickr/etc. are easy ways to share photos, but not the same as the scrapbooks/photo albums. My kids' mom has a picture of our daughter when she was small that she cut out and put into a scrapbook. It looks like someone made a sticker of her and stuck it in the scrapbook. Very cool.
With my side of the family it's not hard to convince them all to sit down to an analog slide show. It is hard to get all of us in the same place at the same time though. Not sure where I'm going with this, it's too late at night. It may make more sense tomorrow
Shoot more film.
There are eight ways to put a slide into a projector tray. Seven of them are wrong.
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My dad and my wife are "archivists" in the sense of putting the best snapshots in a photo album that has a prominent place in the bookshelf.
Dad's books were done during the 60's and 70's, all film (or Polaroid).
With my wife, I used to get insecurity pangs because after she was done, she'd hand me the negatives and the "dross" and when I shuffled through the pictures I took... I only saw the pictures that didn't make the cut.
for the longest while my better half was the archivist in my immediate family.
we used to drop off 2, 3 maybe 4 rolls a week at the local photo place.
since we have been together we have filled 52-53 photo albums ... but
since the p/s cameras broke, and then the inexpensive place we got things processed
closed, and it now cost 2-3 times that amount we have reverted to the other-way ...
and it just isn't the same ...