of all the old pictures

By | photography

I got a call for my permission to use a certain photograph in an upcoming exhibition by a group of new documentary photographers. They had to choose an “old” photograph from the municipal archives for inspiration, and one of them chose my 1968 picture of some gypsy caravans on an open space near where I lived in The Hague. I looked up the negatives, and the four-digit number clearly showed the distance in time between then and now. Since I am now rapidly approaching the number of 80,000 negatives I’m suddenly aware of all the pictures I have taken in all those years, all the many different subjects. Maybe because it’s that time of the year again – everybody’s looking back, automatically you look back too, it’s like in a crowd – but it is a new experience that somebody now chooses one of my early photographs for inspiration. I was more used to thinking in terms of being inspired myself…

positive about the negative

By | photography

In the world of archives large scale digitizing of black and white photographic negatives is going on at the moment. Specialized companies are explaining to the experienced and unexperienced public alike that this is urgent business, because these photographic negatives would be deteriorating. (Question: doesn’t digital material deteriorate, and at what rate do both methods compare?). Moreover, they point out, “the negatives are often hidden in badly accessible archives, and the digitalized files are easier to handle for non-technical staff”. This being true or not true, the big problem is that much valuable and irreplaceable material has already been destroyed and this is ongoing…. No film photographer will want to throw away his negatives, and will be shocked to hear that others do. Only today a friend told me that she had thrown away a large group of old family negatives that supposedly were “no good anymore”, and the children had prints of most photographs anyway. Maybe people think it is, or soon will be impossible to have b&w negatives printed anymore. Another piece of history gone.