Photography, Fine Art, Wet Plate Collodion, Alternative photography

Photography tip no.03 Photoarchive – Don’t delete your digital images



Is it because only black and white photographer have shot them together? Do you think that among all those staff digital photographers only BW photographer shot them together? Accordingly to a lecture I had at London College of Printing there were many staff digital photographers who’ve shot almost every White House worker together with Bill Clinton, but digital photographers charged their $20 dollars for the picture and then erased it, while BW photographer charged $20 dollars and kept his negative.
Reasons not to delete digital images:

1) You can never know what picture will became really interesting in the future

2) Deleting pictures takes effort and time

3) Digital media cariers have never been cheaper

4) You’re erasing history

To keep a control over my archive I use two separete archive. One is my “Contact sheet archive “and second is a “Vintage archive” of selected images.
“Contact sheet archive”
As I described earlier I rename my files and prepare them in folder to be burned on DVDs. I burn every image I’ve shot on DVD. If I have time I fill in IPTC information for images, but usually I don’t have time to do that. I burned them all!!!

“Vintage photo-archive”
Then I do a selection of images and that selected image I save on my harddrive in HIres jpg format and fill in all IPTC information needed.

In this way I keep all the images on my DVDs, ready that new Monicas Lewinsky will emerge from it and on the otherside my photoarchive of selected images is small enough to keep it on my harddrive.
OK, sometimes I do erase some completly crap photos, but I stoped doing that since I got a crazy idea. How my pictures would look like if I would shot them unplanned, by accident? Hm… Art critics are all about concepts and artistic credos, what if I would exhibit failed pictures? Pictures that happend by accident when I was changing lens? UAU! Maybe that’s my Monica from my archiving. If not it’s definetly very good lesson to be learned. In Fabrica we had a workshop with Paul Graham, where we had to photograph in a way to make as crappy images as we could. The lesson was to escape all knowledge that we’re filled all the time and take a look of completly blurry image in a way as it is a masterpiece.

Here are few images that were taken by mistake from the shoot for a calendar. Do you understand? If I would erase this crappy images, I would never think of them as exploration of new aesthetic. Hm, it’s potential might lead me to the best work as I will ever do and because you never know, do not erase history!




Written by Borut Peterlin

29 December, 2006 at 01:06

Posted in Art

29 Responses

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  1. Ha ha, samo res, prav vse tri slike so kul. Zgleda kot da bi bil zadaj nek koncept in dolgotrajne priprave, zacnes s svojimi intepretacijami, ko jih zagledas …


    29 December, 2006 at 19:27

  2. To je to. Verjamem znanstvenikom, ko pravijo, da je naša zavest skrajno primitvno orodje, ki po velikodušnih ocenah obdela približno 0,0005% realnosti, ki jo naši čuti zaznajo in oziroma informacij, ki pride v podzavest.

    Pa te tri fotke so iz enega samega snemanja! Enkrat bom zbral vse zgrešene posnetke in boš videl kako se bo art kritikom zmešalo!

    Če se ne bo prej meni…


    29 December, 2006 at 21:43

  3. Jaz raje vse spravljam na prenosne diske. Res da so malo dražji, je pa dostop veliko lažji in hitrejši.


    30 December, 2006 at 11:21

  4. While on the Clinton/Lewinsky matter, here’s another story from Digital Journalist’s editor:

    This being said, i’m not sure i agree with your philosophy about (not, ever) deleting files. This may work for art/documentary photographer primarily concerned with his vision, but not that much for commercial photographer/reporter. Here the question about deleting is more pragmatic: how much to delete to minimize handling time/storage cost and maximize possibility of deriving income from archive.

    Taking accidental images is valid approach, but today there are so many visual impulses and inspirations that i don’t think you have to keep every image you made for remote possibility it will help your vision sometime in the future.

    I usually keep broad selection of images which is somewhere between 30% and 50% of everything i shot.


    30 December, 2006 at 12:21

  5. Cheers Ivan for the article!
    Actually I’ve haven’t saw the color image before, but nonetheless my point is met. Digital photographers erased the image of President with Monica Who?… but photographer who was shooting on slides kept the image in his archive.

    Looking at the images that are errors is way of keeping doors open to your eye. My picture series Zombies springed out from a bad image of a person with a dog. I was photographing people with dogs, but accidentally I’ve shot an interesting image that was far from the original concept. I found it interesting and change the concept and kept doing “errors” for next three years and in that way I’ve made my major project with which I’ve graduated. Pictures series also won Emzin’s first prize Photography of the year 1997.

    Your question about the balance between storage costs and quality of archive I will answer from my own perspective.

    I share the same estimation with you that only about 30% of images that I’ve shot have some useful archiving quality. But I ask myself opposite question.

    How much time would I need to select out 50% of my images? In last theree months I’ve shot about 13.000 images and to delete 50% of it I would need at least 20 hours of really focused and intense work. The result of that work would be that instead of 76 DVD’s I would burn only 38 DVD’s and I would save about 20 EUR. Of course presumably I haven’t erased some important image.

    I never calculated how much do I earn per hour, but surely I earn more then 1 EUR/ hour, so I decided that it’s definetly not worth saving money on DVDs. But on other hand if my images would be stored on harddrive I would have second thoughts either to buy new harddrive every third month or erase some images of anonymous person with president.


    30 December, 2006 at 14:09

  6. If you put it like that – yes, selecting keepers looks like a lot of work. But making that selection is inherent in my workflow. I usually mark that selection during my first look at pictures. I use Nikon View and mark every photo (CTRL+M) I deem remotely usable or interesting. I copy that selection to special folder and make my future selections for publication from there. It saves some time as i don’t have to look at all those crap photos again. I’ve learned to trust my judgement and when in doubt i always select the picture. I’m not all that conserned that i’ll overlook some important masterpiece. I usually leave original folder for some time on the disk and delete it eventually.


    31 December, 2006 at 14:00

  7. Borut, daj mi razlozi – isto kot v primeru klinton & levinski me zanima, zakaj so fotke ali pa videoposnetki, ki prikazujejo aktualne, da ne recem ekskluzivne, dogodke kljub opremi ki jo premoremo danes vse dokaj neostre da ne bom rekel amaterske? (recimo zajetje milosevica..).


    3 January, 2007 at 00:49

  8. Ker je resolucija najboljše videokamere recimo 10x slabša od slabega digitalnega fotoaparata?

    Še najboljša analogna filmska kamera (35mm format) ima dimenzije negativa cca 24 x 15 mm. Sicer se moje lekcije filmskih kamer pričenjajo in končujejo s praško FAMU (94-98) a, če bi želel vsaj kolikor toliko kvalitetno foto sliko iz kamere bi moral uporabljati vsaj 16mm format, ki se uporablja za snemanje hochštaplerskih reklam in resnih filmov. Vsekakor s tako kamero ne bi mogel posneti aretacijo Miloševića (noč) ali pa generala Godine. Prepričan sem, da so digitalne kamere tudi tega sposobne a so po svojih fizičnih in gravitacijskih lastnostih podobne analognim.

    PS: Ako su lagali mene, i ja lažem vas 🙂


    3 January, 2007 at 21:57

  9. pisda, ce pa jas na analogno kamero nardim tak print skrin, da bi si na reutersu vsi uredniki zdrkali svoje kurcine 🙂

    (vcasih sem studiral, da bi rajs posnetke delal s kamero, potem pa vrezal ven najzanimivejsi frejm per second.., ampak ko pa imam rajs trenutek..).


    4 January, 2007 at 08:44

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