What's your place in history?
Sorry folks - I had to grab your attention with a catchy title...this is what I really meant to ask;
What impact do you think your photographs will have in the future?
I'm 47 and in that mid-life phase where one looks to the future wondering what footprints I'll leave in the sand after I'm gone. Will my photographs mean anything? Will yours?
If you grab your camera right now and fire off a snap-shot of the street where you live, it'll have historical significance because in 100 years it'll show how your street once was, in the year 2007. What of our personal photographs? Will the images we make for ourselves have a life after we've gone?
I take images of things in nature that amaze me. There's no attempt to take photographs which sell because I have a great day job, and I have a need to be close to my wife and daughter that's stronger than the urge to be famous. My photography is a purely personal expression. What then of my photographs?
In my case, I think my images will gain in importance as time passes. I've taken many photographs of deep forest scenes that are now clear cuts, and somebody will want to compare what once was with what has grown since the old growth was logged. They'll also be able to catalogue what plant species were here when my photographs of still standing forests were taken, and see what plant species have since moved in. That'll be my legacy.
Have you given this any thought?
Last edited by MurrayMinchin; 07-04-2007 at 08:31 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.
Yes, I have thought about this quite a bit. A few years ago I looked through contact sheets from the 60's or so. I was surprised about how I felt about some of the pictures that I did not even care enough about to print at that time. At that time everything was "normal" and not interesting, so why print them. Now that many relatives have been dead for many years and the old farm is gone etc. these images have sure gained in importance.
I also found some casual shots that showed the environment that I grew up in: cars, buildings, streets, houses, all the things that change slow enough that we don't realize it at the time, have become very interesting.
Yes, images do become more important as time passes and if I had a brain in my head I would have taken many, many more rolls of film of everyday life.
several of my associates and I discovered that a three spined stickleback's fast start response does not actually correlate to the number of caudal vertebrae it has.....someone tell me how this is useful in the real world....
shhhh. the secret is we didn't believe our professor when she told us that the number of vertebrae were directly correlated, instead believing size had more to do with it, and set out to prove her wrong.
Originally Posted by Stever
The ugly truth is that most of the output of most photographers will be unceremoniously dumped on their deaths - the proportion rises to almost 100% in the case of non-pro enthusiasts. If this bothers you, be sure to talk ahead of your demise to the archivists of any organizations which might be interested in your work and present to them any of it in which they are interested. For myself, it is almost certain that the handful of pictures I took of David Bowie in my youth (example in APUG gallery) will eclipse and outlast anything else I have done or am likely to do - I find this slightly annoying, but I can't do anything about it. I continue to take pictures for a variety of reasons, not really caring what posterity will think, since I shall be dead when posterity makes its view clear!
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I like to think that it is what I do in my life that determines what my place in history will be. If that includes the effect my photography has on others, and my environment, than that is wonderful.
If the results are limited to the effects I have on my family, my friends, my neighbours, my more distant relatives, my clients, the law (in a small way), the not for profit organizations I have worked with or my community in general, than that is fine as well.
As far as I am concerned, my photography improves the quality of my life, and the quality of what I am able to contribute to the lives of others.
In that way, the contribution of photography is priceless.
David Bebbington (above) refers to photographer's output being "unceremoniously dumped" (a truly evocative phrase). While I would agree that this is a great tragedy, the fact that the photography is initially created and shared has a value all it's own. David's David Bowie photographs may be kept, but the impact of the rest of his photography will last, as well.
What impact do you think your photographs will have in the future.
My decision on the subject has already begun to take place. All of my life's work will be totally destroyed by burning or what ever is necessary. I want nothing what so ever to indicate to any one in the future that I ever was here. I have heard all the arguments possible over the years to try to change my mind. I am not going to! My work is mine, no one else has the right to tell me what I should or should not do with it now or ever. I have bleached (Clorox) literly thousands of my negatives and prints to clear acetate. I have and will continue burn all of my exhibition 24x30's, 16x20's, 11x14's and 8x10's color and b&w prints. More than 50 years of work. I will continue to do so until they are all gone. Some have called me selfish and worse, but I made the negatives and prints, Watercolors, oils, etc. with no intention of having an impact on anyone now or in the future. They were made by me for me, no one else!
Since I also received zero support from anyone else in financing my work, I am doing exactly what I want to do with it.
My wife is quite aware of my wishes and supports me in my actions. I will say no more here on the subject. Also I will not respond to anyones comments, ideas or remarks pro or con concerning my decisions.
Have a great day!
It seems for a few that if you want your photographs to last then put them in a
Everytime I find a film or paper that I like, they discontinue it. - Paul Strand - Aperture monograph on Strand
It's a good question, Murray, and one I've often pondered. Without wanting to be morbid, I'm the same age as you, but increasingly aware that the years are passing by - now more behind me than there are ahead of me - and that I shouldn't hang about if I'm to leave anything worthwhile on the planet after I've gone up a chimney in a cloud of smoke. I've made arrangements for a local museum to take possession of my collection of 4,000 Westcountry mining slides from the early 70s onwards. As regards the (allegedly!) creative material, I hope that the relatively small number of my favourite prints that I've mounted and framed might make it as far as the local auction house even if all the rest is skipped.
Originally Posted by MurrayMinchin
Perhaps the only work that is guaranteed to survive is that which I have had published, because somebody somewhere will always have a copy of it (even if it's only the publisher!)
One other point for anyone who hopes their work will outlast them - don't just remember to record on it who you are/were and when and where a shot was taken, make sure that the information stays put. A friend of mine recently bought a framed b/w print of a heavy horse at work on a farm at a local auction. It was obviously shot, framed and mounted many years ago and will grace his lounge but sadly there is just a square outline on the back where a gummed sticky label bearing all the details presumably once was.