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What’s Gonna Happen to Your Photographs?
Old 01-30-2019   #1
Bill Clark
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What’s Gonna Happen to Your Photographs?

I’m already getting rid, more bluntly, throwing away many negatives and prints. A friend of mine did the same. He had the task of going through his parents prints and negatives, most of them ended up in the trash. He said, “most of the people in the photographs I didn’t know!”

Here is another person I know and this is her quote that’s on facebook”

“My next project: sifting through these 6 boxes of old photos and photo albums - a project I have been putting off for some time. Chances are much will end up in the trash, but I will take digital photos of more important ones to retain. I think I'll put on a movie while doing it. And maybe enjoy a glass of wine....”

Sad isn’t it? Especially those of us who like photography.

What about you? Any editing going on with your stash of photos and negatives?
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Old 01-30-2019   #2
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I would never throw away a single frame, it's like erasing a part of history. And there is no guarantee that digital copies will survive more than a few decades. Keeping the physical medium is the best chance to preserve photographic records.
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Old 01-30-2019   #3
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I’ve had to throw whole peoples lives in the dumpster.

Family never came or never cared.

Hardest part of my job!

Against policy to save anything....

Personally, I have a VERY large archive of vintage prints, slides, negatives, and glass plates I’ve rescued over the years. The hope is to compile them into a large stock photo site one day.

It makes me a little ill to think people are tossing away these memories on purpose. It’s your History! Once it’s gone, you can never get it back!
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Old 01-30-2019   #4
Bill Clark
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Quote:
Family never came or never cared.
Same story for me. I have quite a few external hard drives with client photographs. No one seems to want them or care. It must be the mind set of people. Look at them once then go on with their lives.
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Old 01-30-2019   #5
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I had tens of thousands of negatives and slides from 50 years of shooting professionally. Journalism and documentary stuff. Tried giving them away to area libraries, museums, etc., but none of them wanted to manage and store that quantity of area photographic history. So, 10 or 12 years ago I burned them all. The stacks of hard drives left will be easy for whoever has to deal with my stuff after I die to toss in the dumpster, so I don't worry about that anymore.

With billions of photos a year being uploaded to the internet, I don't think folks place much value on them anymore. Modern times.
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Old 01-30-2019   #6
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I like photography, but I do not take it in huge numbers.
Most of my photos are done strictly for me. To see how it looks like on photo.
Some of them were requested, send to.
For family pictures we have albums and files in copies
I also give photos to people close to me.
I'd rather have dozen of photos people find to be worth of keeping, than boxes of prints and negatives nobody needs.
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Old 01-30-2019   #7
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"What’s Gonna Happen to Your Photographs?"

After physical death I don't think I will be in a position to worry about the trivialities of my former life on the earth plane .
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Old 01-30-2019   #8
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“After physical death I don't think I will be in a position to worry about the trivialities of my former life on the earth plane.”

Agree.

But I hope a few are passed on to family.
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Old 01-30-2019   #9
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Making the same decisions now. Just closed one of our weekly newspapers and tossed 30 years of negatives. Nobody wanted them. I still have all the negatives I shot for publication, local fire companies, police departments, and for myself. I will turn 74 in March and must decide what will become of them as well.
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Old 01-30-2019   #10
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Quote:
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I had tens of thousands of negatives and slides from 50 years of shooting professionally. Journalism and documentary stuff. Tried giving them away to area libraries, museums, etc., but none of them wanted to manage and store that quantity of area photographic history. So, 10 or 12 years ago I burned them all. The stacks of hard drives left will be easy for whoever has to deal with my stuff after I die to toss in the dumpster, so I don't worry about that anymore.

With billions of photos a year being uploaded to the internet, I don't think folks place much value on them anymore. Modern times.
It's sad to think that so much photography will vanish. Museums and universities only want collections that arrive along with a six-figure check to help handle management and scholarship around a collection. Even within Universities they have trouble managing their own collections built by staff photographers like me. I shudder at the number of prints and negatives that have been disposed of over the years.

When I die I suspect my work will live a short time in one of the kid's closet or attic and then eventually go to the landfill. The only photographic evidence of mine will be those images in private collections and museums that own a print. Perhaps the best chance for long term survival is on the internet...
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Grandkids
Old 01-30-2019   #11
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Grandkids

My hope is to interest one of my grandkids in photography and curating my archive of photos and negs. At this point my own kids are too busy with their families and work to get involved in such a project. As pointed out by others, I too have albums of photos from my parents and in-laws which have countless photos of unknown people - what a pity that nobody labeled them. My negs at least have labels that tell who is in them by roll, but not by frame number.
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Old 01-30-2019   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
I like photography, but I do not take it in huge numbers.
Most of my photos are done strictly for me. To see how it looks like on photo.
Some of them were requested, send to.
For family pictures we have albums and files in copies
I also give photos to people close to me.
I'd rather have dozen of photos people find to be worth of keeping, than boxes of prints and negatives nobody needs.
I think most people underestimate the cost of sifting through negatives. If you made contact sheets it might be easier, but still a big job. Museums and Universities don’t want these archives without the accompanying cheque because they simply don’t have the money to deal with it. Unless you are a famous photographer or a salesperson decides you’ll be the next Vivian Maier then unfortunately they are of little use.

I subscribe to Ko.Fe’s plan. I shoot for me, five photos to friends and family members as they request, and print select photos. My family are much more likely to look through a box of photos compared to a box of negatives or a few hard drives of files once I’m gone. I wouldn’t with the alternatives on anyone.
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Old 01-30-2019   #13
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I’m thinking that, with my digital files, I’ll leave it to my kids to decide. External hard drives are so cheap now. My file system works like this with my Apple computers:

Folder for year
Underneath year folder one for each month. Folders Labeled 01 January, 02 February and so on. Then the folders would appear in numerical order. If I didn’t use the number for each month it would alpha sort therefore the months wouldn’t be in correct sequence.

Underneath each month the events listed. With each event, a folder for RAW files and a folder for JPEGS.

When I had my business, if a client needed a file, all I needed to know is the year and month the photo was made.
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Old 01-30-2019   #14
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There is only one trick to this: show people your photos now. A side effect of our complicated wiring is that we think other people are interested in what we do. They're not. Unless you show them.
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Old 01-30-2019   #15
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Well, if someone is interested, they will live on... if not, they will die with me. IF you are only making family photos, the best is to truly break it down to the best of the best and make books. If you are an artist, it’s not up to you if your work survives.
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Old 01-30-2019   #16
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There will be descendants who will curse you if you throw them away. I went through boxes of my late dad’s photos recently that my mom was going to throw away. There are tons of fantastic photos, many of good artistic and documentary value, on wonderful films such a Kodachrome that are gone, and they mean the world to me to have them. Even simple street snaps from decades ago are fascinating because of the nostalgia value of colors, styles, etc., and that goes even for many of the great photographers of the last two centuries, some of whose work became great only after it became nostalgic. In 100 years a great grandchild interested in family history or genealogy might love nothing more than to see some of your everyday snaps. I so wish more records existed of my grandparents when they were young, or any record at all of my great grandparents and prior generations, or even of the long-gone city and countryscapes where they lived.

Even their travel photos in countries that don’t exist anymore. It’s just crazy to me to throw this stuff away.

Even though my dad’s film work is large, it’s small compared to what many people shoot digitally in a couple of months or less, so why not just find a box and store them?
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Old 01-30-2019   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kai-san View Post
I would never throw away a single frame, it's like erasing a part of history. And there is no guarantee that digital copies will survive more than a few decades. Keeping the physical medium is the best chance to preserve photographic records.
Tak Kai, I feel the same.
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Fresh start
Old 01-30-2019   #18
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Fresh start

All my photos, slides and negatives were destroyed when my place flooded in Superstorm Sandy.

I'm a little sad, but mostly about loss of the irreplaceable family photos.

Chris
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Old 01-30-2019   #19
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Slide film has been much easier to organize for me. It is with the help of a Kodak Carousel projector with circular slide trays with many holding 80 sludes and some 140. They go back to the 1960’s. I still have the projector and I bought a few extra bulbs just in case they become hard to find. DEK is the bulb.

The nice feature of the carousel trays is each one is in a box with lines on one edge outside to mark the contents. Inside is a heavy sheet of paper with numbers and line to give a brief description of each slide. They fit on a shelf in the library.

Found this on Amazon:


https://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&ke...l_4ipegsvsbh_e

This also looks interesting:

https://www.amazon.com/DIGITNOW-Nega...usel+projector
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Old 01-30-2019   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisPlatt View Post
All my photos, slides and negatives were destroyed when my place flooded in Superstorm Sandy.

I'm a little sad, but mostly about loss of the irreplaceable family photos.

Chris
Yikes. Sorry to hear that.
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Old 01-30-2019   #21
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Family pictures I've taken and that people care about have long since been distributed (and as far as I know, pitched in due course). All the rest of the stuff I've rarely looked at. Right now I am going through my 20 years of pictures and trying to discard the stuff that's not good technically or just not worth saving, and I'm sure at some point all the stuff I am keeping now will be thrown out. I've done this mainly for my own enjoyment, and I highly doubt anyone would want to be saddled with sorting through meaningless pictures after I'm gone.
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Old 01-30-2019   #22
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After my mother passed, there was still a lot of dad's art stuff that no one had claimed over the years he was gone. It surprised me that some of my siblings were not interested in it, mostly because they had one piece they really liked, and didn't care for the rest.

Now my dad wasn't any more than an amateur, just as I am with photography, but he had his own style. So I snagged as many of his lesser works as I could. Sure, they don't mean anything to anyone else, but I'm happy to have them. And they survive at least until I pass.

As to my photography, I suppose it will be more of the same thing as my dad's art work. Some of it will be cherished by family members, but most will be lost to history. And that doesn't bother me at all, because I won't be around to worry about it.

I do hope I have the time left to go through it all in order to make some sense of it for whomever gets the task of looking through the boxes. Right now it's 50 years of images that are barely sorted, and some negatives have been separated from the prints.

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Old 01-30-2019   #23
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I assume that any of my scanned images will simply be deleted, and any slides will likely be tossed into the trash. All of my street photography is of persons I didn't know and never met, so likely no one in my family will care.
But then I fully expect my wife to have me cremated and scatter my ashes in the cat's litter boxes.
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Old 01-30-2019   #24
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Recalling the final scene of Inglorious Basterds. At least when B&W film had nitrate one could use them to incinerate Nazis.
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Old 01-30-2019   #25
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But on a serious note, that is why the love of process is so vital - including the feel and handling of your favoured camera and developing by hand etc - because ultimately no one cares but you.
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Old 01-31-2019   #26
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They will become some descendant's problem, or opportunity. In our attic are a couple of boxes of family negs, plates, slides and prints. I know who or what some of the subjects are but others are a mystery. Every few years I take a look, get interested and then put them to one side...and so it will be, I imagine, in the future. Takes far less effort to store the stuff than do anything with it!
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Old 01-31-2019   #27
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I have some of my dad's work on the wall and more in digital files that I periodically post on social media as "Throw Back Thursday"... actually family and friends love the TBT posts, but not the effort required.

One of the few positive aspects of social media ; )

My stuff... I value the process and interaction with people I meet... no expectations on what happens downstream... not sad at all...
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Old 01-31-2019   #28
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When my parents died, I inherited the family photo albums going back to the early 20th Century. I understand that in the post-WWII years, only one uncle had a camera -I remember collecting his discarded flash cubes, and today these albums are in great demand. I think these photos will survive for another generation or two. With regards to most of the other stuff...dust to dust... it will, either eternally float in internet space, be deleted, or incinerated. Reminds me of the fact that the majority of Facebook accounts were opened by people who are now dead.
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Old 01-31-2019   #29
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I’ve been wrestling with this question quite a bit over the last few years— worrying more about digital files than negs, but both nonetheless.

One conclusion I’ve reached is that family will tend to filter out images of people they know, and dicscard the rest.

Another conclusion is that digital files are inherently more susceptible to loss than negs— I currently maintain my digital archive backed up triplicates on 3 external drives, stored in 3 locations, and I replace the drives at regular intervals. But, even if they’re maintained by me, no guarantee anyone else will when considering descent of multiple generations. And that’s IF someone is inclined to look through them.

So, I think we face 2 issues— survival of our images in general and survival of “art work” vs strictly family images.

Prints offer a solution to the former, but not the latter.

So, I think I’ve arrived at at least a semi-adequate solution. I am going through my archives, choosing images to print in high quality books— think linen covers and matching slip boxes, etc. I’m going to mix family stuff, the best of it, WITH my best artwork.

If future generations want the family history, they can bear the burden of a few art shots too!
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Old 01-31-2019   #30
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Quote:
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But on a serious note, that is why the love of process is so vital - including the feel and handling of your favoured camera and developing by hand etc - because ultimately no one cares but you.
I’d tend to agree with this, as I am not one of those who invariably tend to ***-pooh “the process”. The photo itself is just an artifact of the larger act of making the photo. Down the line, the photo may, or may not, be meaningful to others (“Oh, look, here’s one of uncle Jamie” “What a pretty flowerbed, I wonder where that was?”), but there are layers of meaning and context, and depth of feeling, connected to every artifact of the process (the tangible photo) which are never available to anyone except the photographer. Family, descendants, museum goers, may enjoy specific photos for one reason or another, but no one but you will ever be able to fully contextualize any of them. The storehouse of memories associated with that photo of a rock on the ground. So, yes, ultimately no one cares but you. They can’t possibly. Not at the level you do anyway.
For now, dare I say it, just enjoy the proccess.
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Old 01-31-2019   #31
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On the one hand: my father died ten years ago, and I have gone through the family archive of negatives seeking pictures that were never printed at the time they were taken. Because my father is gone, each of the images found is like a treasure.

On the other: because of my propensity for this sort of image-gleaning, I inherited my grandparents pictures and negatives. They were meticulously organized into cases by decade by my grandmother. But as others have said, no one in my family circle knows the identity of most of the folks in the pictures. They include, for instance, business buddies of my grandfather on fishing trips. . . . that sort of thing.

I can't bring myself to throw them out . . . part of the reason is my own fascination with images from 100 years ago. They are all interesting in some way, if only because they are a snapshot of a moment long gone. Those hats!

I think the march of technology is going to "solve" the problem of quadrillions of bits of data on hard drives all over the world. The memory will degrade and the file formats will eventually become unreadable. Anyone think a jpg will be machine readable in 100 years? That'd be an interesting bar bet.
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Old 01-31-2019   #32
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Anyone think a jpg will be machine readable in 100 years? That'd be an interesting bar bet.

I expect there would be no winners of that bet.
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Old 01-31-2019   #33
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“ Anyone think a jpg will be machine readable in 100 years?“

I hope nobody thinks that.
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Old 01-31-2019   #34
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Well, if someone is interested, they will live on... if not, they will die with me. IF you are only making family photos, the best is to truly break it down to the best of the best and make books. If you are an artist, it’s not up to you if your work survives.
This ^^^^^^^





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Basically, I mean, ah—well, let’s say that for me anyway when a photograph is interesting, it’s interesting because of the kind of photographic problem it states—which has to do with the . . . contest between content and form.
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Old 01-31-2019   #35
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I expect there would be no winners of that bet.
No one knows.

However, I would bet a trivial method is in widespread use to convert JPEGs into what ever.

I do not subscribe to an apocalyptic view for the future. But any number of scenarios are possible where no digital technology exists 100 years from now.
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Basically, I mean, ah—well, let’s say that for me anyway when a photograph is interesting, it’s interesting because of the kind of photographic problem it states—which has to do with the . . . contest between content and form.
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Old 01-31-2019   #36
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After I disappear, I expect anything I don't bother to print and anything where the people and perhaps the locations are not identified will disappear rather quickly
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Basically, I mean, ah—well, let’s say that for me anyway when a photograph is interesting, it’s interesting because of the kind of photographic problem it states—which has to do with the . . . contest between content and form.
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Old 01-31-2019   #37
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No one knows.

However, I would bet a trivial method is in widespread use to convert JPEGs into what ever.

I do not subscribe to an apocalyptic view for the future. But any number of scenarios are possible where no digital technology exists 100 years from now.

Maybe I should add to my comment to make it more understandable:


I expect there would be no winners of that bet because none of the contestants would live long enough to see who was right.
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Old 01-31-2019   #38
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Someone will archive my photographs, negatives, transparencies and drives. They will catalog all my works, publish them and hang them in places of honor. My work will be preserved. My photographs will live on in perpetuity.

Yeah. Right. Like that's ever gonna happen.

It often seems to me that no one today really cares much about preserving history. The newspaper I once worked for had an archive of negatives dating from just after World War II. Since the paper was a regional daily, it had a rich history of the area that included parts of three adjoining states. Before I left that job, the negatives were donated to a local university library where they were to be archived. A few years later, I spoke to one of the former editors of the paper and she told me the library was unable to locate any of those negatives. They had either been misplaced somewhere or mistakenly disposed of to make room for other material.

Since my photography is a personal creative outlet, I really have nothing anyone else cares about. None of my family and few of my friends have shown much interest in my work so I expect all of it will end up in a landfill.
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Old 01-31-2019   #39
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Hopefully they won't end up in the belly of an unfortunate sea animal.
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Old 01-31-2019   #40
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I’m already getting rid, more bluntly, throwing away many negatives and prints.
why? you gave up on life?

If i were you i would dig in and print some that i like. Have a kick out of it.
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