I apologize for a long overdue post, but I have been preoccupied with my PhD program, which seems to be consuming every aspect of my life. Even so, I have maintained a few hobbies, one of which is photography. Now, while I like to think of photography as an escape from science, I’m finding that often my lab skills bleed into this amateur hobby.
- Record the dates of the photographs: Because I have switched to largely film photography, I jot down the dates that I took photographs. For the larger digital audience, you can find this information in the metadata.
- Record some memorable events that happened either in a word processor or a notebook: Why did you take the photograph? What funny events happened on that day? Who was there? Do this the day of the event while memories are fresh. I have done this on my trusty ThinkPad since 2011. If you are on vacation, consider carrying a notepad or journal and, at the end of the night, recording your day.
- Print the photographs as soon as possible and record the relevant information from steps 1 and 2 on the back of the photo in indelible ink: It becomes daunting to sort through hundreds of photographs (part of the reason I went to film!). Working in manageable chunks makes life easier. Recording the date the photograph was taken and some key memories of the event will ensure, as Kodak says, that you “Make those memories last a lifetime.” Store these photos in an album! Scattering them in shoe boxes or envelopes is sure to lead to future frustrations.
- If you intend on passing these photographs to other generations, state who is in the photograph and your relation to them. Future generations want to know their relation (or lack of relation) to every person in the photograph—they will want to know if a given person was significant to you or just an acquaintance.
- If you have printed doubles of photographs or have negatives, mark the contents of the envelope in which they are contained: Having had to sort through the contents of dozens of unmarked envelopes for negatives, many of which were from previous generations of family members, I can say life is so much easier when you don’t have to hunt for the one negative or photograph that is a needle in the haystack.
- Bonus idea: Admittedly, I am obsessive with some areas of my life. Rather than just jotting down a few key memories of the day, I keep a daily journal. Perhaps consider the photographs as a part of your storybook…they only provide a visual to the story of your life. I do hope that one day, my children and grandchildren will go through my diary and match the dates with the photographs. By the way, my journal (and photograph captions) is entirely honest; I don’t want my ancestors to get a Kodachrome vision of the past, where they think all the world’s a sunny day—we have people in our lives who we don’t care for. There are political issues that anger us. We have days where we want to crawl under a rock. These are common threads that tie humanity together.