A Life Examined: Episode 1

photo file cabinets

I got started on April 1st. Seemed appropriate to start such a big project on my Saint’s day; April Fools Day. I had been putting this off for years because with over 850 shoot folders, and more than 72,000 frames, it was overwhelming to start. But it was well past time. I have over 1000 pounds of negatives and slides from a previous life; a life of a commercial photographer.

It is all organized in folders stored in file cabinets, and catalogued by shoot date in a written ledger since 1978. My first two years as a professional, 1976 to the summer of 1978, was a mountain of miscellanous which took me the first month to organize and scan, backup, and archive. It took me that long to work out the production pipeline.

Today is May 20, 2022. I just finished shoot No. 220.

photo folders

I backup the scanned files daily so that they are copied on to 4 drives on two workstations. On Saturdays I copy the week’s work to two more drives on a third workstation, as well as upload them to my Cloud drive and LTO tape. Full disclosure: I have never had any of my drives fail me in over 28 years of computing, but this is a life’s work and I am not taking any shortcuts.

Some of this film is over 46 years old and I am seeing damage even though all has been stored to the professional standards of the time they were shot. Even some of the black and white negatives have damage from age. I am sure that the color films have shifted in color, but that has produced some interesting new results.

I use a bed scanner, UMAX Powerlook 1100 for large format negatives and transparencies, as well as contact sheets and prints. I use a Nikon COOLSCAN V for 35 mm film, color and black & white. I use the software VueScan.

Eventually I will create a website, but for the next 8-10 months I am going to concentrate on the process of archiving all of my work and the stories that are renewed in my memories.

I don’t know who needs to know all of this so I will be writing it down mostly for me. Photography is a perfect mnemonic. I am remembering things long ago forgotten. Good thing I took notes.


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