A Legacy, Locked, Without A Key

How much of a photography legacy will you leave when you’re gone?

Is it easily accessible to your family and friends, and others how might be interested in your work?

Or is it locked up and secure, with no-one but you having a key?

Before you say (as I might) “It doesn’t matter, who would possibly be interested in my pictures?”, think about the different reasons they might hold a curiosity.

It might be for personal, sentimental reasons, because they’re in the photo, or know the people who are.

It might be for historical interest as your photo features a place that now looks very different.

It might be for an artistic reason, ie they love the topic and composition and qualities you captured in the photograph.

Surely these are all valid and important enough reasons to ensure your work is available to a wider audience, and not just when you’re dead, but now?

So think about your photos for a moment.

Where is your photo archive right now, and who knows how to access it?

Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking.

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22 thoughts on “A Legacy, Locked, Without A Key”

    1. I could have predicted this answer from P! With the negatives, do you think there’ll come a time when prints can’t be made from negatives? (I have no idea of the chemistry involved.) But I guess then they could be digitally scanned and printed from those images.

  1. Most of my photographs are stored in my computer and on an external hard drive. I also have film negatives in archival sleeve. Lately I had a long reflexion on what would happen with my photography work ? I have to admit, some of my photos are not well organized and are located in différents files that no other than me knows where to find them in the computer. That reflexion push me to start a critical project: creating photobooks of my work. Printing those photos files will bring them to life and will be easier for my posterity to find them and enjoy them.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Luc. I think the photobooks are an excellent idea, and something I’ve been thinking of for ages, for family photos especially. It’s overwhelming thinking of those thousands of images, but having say a book of the best 25 photos for each year is something manageable.

  2. I do not kid myself into thinking anyone will be interested in my work after I’m gone. Few are interested now. Already the main body of my photography has vanished, and the digital images are unlikely to fair any better. Everything is temporary. Accept it. I’ve got 20, maybe 30 years left in this world and after that nothing matters.

    1. I agree to a point Marc, but I know just from seeing old photos online or in a market or car boot sale or something, they have a certain charm and interest, despite not being professionally photographed.

  3. I have 3 boys and kids these days are pretty good with technology. They would figure it out… but I do have everything on some external hard drives – at least the pictures that would be important to the family. The pictures of flowers and bokeh, might not be quite as important… but I should still write down my old flickr password somewhere, as there’s pictures that are only there these days.

    1. It’s fascinating to think about 10, 20, 30 years down the line, and how our children’s generation – and their children’s – will comprehend and manage the much vaster volumes of photographs we take these days compared with a generation or two ago… By then, every family will have potentially hundreds of thousands of images of themselves, perhaps even millions.

  4. Great thing to think about. Today all of my images are on my computer, behind a password. The main disk is shadowed to an external drive, however, that’s not password protected. So my kids (or whoever) could conceivably find my work. But they’d need a map to find the photos!

  5. Hard copies of photos of long ago are in a box that would be easily found and may be of some interest to whoever finds it. THere is another photographer in the family who may be curious. THe rest are on my iPhone and laptop and i haven’t shared passwords with anyone

  6. Everyone in the family knows where the negatives, slides, proof sheets and prints are in my house. My Apple Photos pictures are shared with my wife and son. All of my scans and other digital files are in the SSD of my MacBook Air and backed up in the iCloud. My wife and son know the loving and password for both.

    1. Doug, from what you’ve said before about your thorough and logical storing and organising processes, this doesn’t come as a surprise!

      I like that accidental phrase anyway – “My wife and son know the lovin” – sounds very sweet.

    1. I think anyone who has an album or two (or a loose handful) of photographs of their loved ones (espcially thos no longer with us) probably feels very fortunate.

      1. Dan, My parents and extended family didn’t take many photos when I was young but I am forever grateful for the few I have made copies of and the rest have gone to my brother and his family to pass down the ancestral line

  7. I’ve been thinking about lately how my sister would access my bank account and stuff like that if something were to happen to me (she’s my next of kin and I’m not having kids). I’ll probably write everything down on a bit of paper and pass it to her. She can get into my iPhone and iPad fine, but she wouldn’t be able to get into my PC which is where all my photos are stored. However I think I have them backed up on a hard drive as well, which is not password protected, so she could access that. My main concern however is more important documents and financial stuff because she’s basically my “heir”.

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