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.
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. ;-)
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.
I do that often. Also often I make pictures of fading photos on grave stones and print them.
Originally Posted by ambaker
There is a beauty in passing and fading, and showing this is also one of my personal goals.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.