Not too long ago, I used a film camera exclusively. I savored making beautiful contact sheets and flipped through them regularly - for inspiration, to become depressed. You know, artist types, so mercurial (passionate, disillusioned, self-important), so icy (artistic block), so watery (tears, collapsing ego). One minute my life's work is an impressive - 569 rolls of film plus dozens not yet processed from the end of my film years - all fitting into four very heavy, overstuffed film binders. Then there's boxes and boxes of prints.
Wait a minute, just 569 rolls. How many is that per year? Maybe not enough, doesn't sound like much, just four binders? What if the house burns down anyway? Photographs in boxes? Not hanging in the white cubes (prestigious art galleries) I learned to deconstruct via post-modern theory at the university? Nope, just mouldering away in a Graco stroller box, a Hilti Tools box, a DockerKhakis box, Kodak and Ilford boxes, BookAZine boxes, etc.
From here the internal conversation goes from morose deprecation to fightin' piss and vinegar to eyebrows furrowed with pride and composure and back down to earth. Mercurial artists.
I now use a computer program to organize my digital photographs. I don't memorize my contact sheets, where in the stack I could find particular images: the first and second trips to Detroit, the punk rock roadtrip to California, the YMCA playground series...
I 'keyword' my images, giving them more or less helpful context that I can readily (as readily as one can on an eight year old computer) call up by searching for keywords like "autumn", "road", "Helenium autumnale", "caterpillar", and "kitchen". It's rather time consuming, and I think I spend less "quality time" with my photographs.
I did, however, spend about 14 seconds of quality time with the above image. What to keyword this one, I wondered. "Kingwood"? "Communist community"? "Idiots"? or how about just "People"? Will I remember this important cultural statement was documented on August 14, 2011? How will I find it? I settled on "sign".