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The Art Of Archiving

What is archiving and why you should be doing it


You may know it already or might have heard the term, but what exactly is archiving?

An archive is a collection or repository that has been organised and filtered in a certain way (such as location, date, keywords, themes, ideas etc.), backed up and made accessible for informational, educational, or historical purposes. Whether you are a big company or a photographer who is just starting out, archiving your work is very important.


Why archive?


In a recent episode of the Magic hour podcast, photographer Dayanita Singh shared

“I have an amazing mother she is quite a character, when I was making these family portraits in the 1990s and nobody was interested in them, she said ‘you must keep doing this work because you love it but more importantly one day some historian will be sitting in an archive and will study your photos for the way floors were being laid in those days.’ Somehow that’s all I needed that yes there is another reason to photograph and that reason could be someone in the future sitting in an archive and saying “what were these watches that people would wear, why did they need to think about time?” That’s the amazing thing about the archives; my mother just nailed it.

Dear Mr. Walter – Mona and Myself, 2014 © Dayanita Singh

Another excellent example of archiving is by the photographer Noah Kalina. He has taken a photo of himself every day for 20 years. Kalina began the project on January 11, 2000, when he was just 19 (he’s 32 now). In an interview with IGNANT, he said

I’ve always been drawn to the concept of time and how you can represent it in photographs. Some of my projects deal with how things subtly change over the course of days, months or years. As a result, I make photographs obsessively, where I capture the same type of picture over and over again, allowing each photograph to exist both on its own and in the context of a series.

© Noah Kalina

He also explains that he can basically look at any shot in the project and know exactly where he was. Certain photos provide details and he can recall who he was with or what he was up to."It’s the perfect diary for me since I’ve never really enjoyed writing.

Now Kalina has launched the “Everyday” website, a place where all his photos are available to view and be sorted by their various properties. Also, each photo is now available to purchase as an NFT.


Lastly, we have Mayank Austen Soofi popularly known as ‘The Delhi Walla’ on Instagram who has 60,000+ posts on his Instagram.




"All of his (The Delhi Walla’s) work together may add up to one of the most eccentric and encyclopedic ground-level portraits of a megacity in the Internet age.” -The New Yorker


In the interview, Mayank also mentions that he uploads fifty photos a day and is trying to profile one per cent of Delhi’s population.



Organise, Archive and Backup


Start by organising your photos with a technique that fits your needs. You may want to delete a lot go images in this process but DON’T! Keep all the pictures as you never know what will become of them. If nothing you can always trace back to where you started and how far you’ve come in your photography journey.

  1. Cloud storage - Apple, Google, Amazon, Dropbox etc.

  2. Hard drives and SSDs - While hard drives are more common and cheaper, SSDs are much more compact, durable and overall safer. We reccomend using both.

  3. Physical copies - If you are someone who doesn’t trust technology you can always print out photos. Just make sure to print multiple copies on an archival paper so that the colours don’t fade away with time.

  4. Apps - Your Lightroom or Capture One catalogue is the easiest and most straightforward way to organise your work.

  5. Websites - SmugMug, Flickr, Website Portfolio, Behance and even Instagram are all great places to store your work.

  6. Scan - Thankfully technology has progressed immensely and you can now digitise your images. We don’t need filing cabinets anymore.

Cover Photo from the book Let’s See, 2021 © Dayanita Singh

You should use a combination of the methods above and have backup copies of your archives because nothing is completely safe or secure and once you lose those pictures there is no other way to retrieve them again unless you are shooting analogue.

Overall, archiving photographs helps to ensure that important cultural, historical, and personal artefacts are preserved for future generations to learn from and enjoy. Let us know how you archive your data.



 

Sources

https://www.ignant.com/2018/03/22/discussing-subversion-and-surprise-with-noah-kalina/
https://vanschneider.com/blog/noah-kalina-took-a-picture-of-himself-every-day-for-20-years/
https://laughingsquid.com/noah-kalina-everyday-nft/
https://www.davidhwells.com/2010/05/03/pictures-purges-and-process-part-two/
https://www.newyorker.com/culture/persons-of-interest/the-delhi-wallas-visions-of-a-possibly-vanishing-india
https://magichourphoto.org/episodes/2021/5/10/episode-47-dayanita-singh

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