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Archiving your photos
Old 07-17-2018   #1
RichC
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Archiving your photos

Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts or on my back-up and archiving procedures. Also, I'd be interested if others do something similar.

As we know, computer files are ephemeral... I spend a lot of time and effort taking photographs, so back-up and archiving are important to me - not only so I don't lose photos but also so they have a life once I'm gone (not for many years - touch wood!). The one thing that photos had before the advent of digital was tangibility of physical prints...

I sorted out backing up ages ago - something I do for all my files, not just photos. First, Windows File History is turned on - so I have a full history of every change and deletion going back 6 months, and can retrieve any version of a file. Second, the files are duplicated: the back-ups are on an internal hard drive, and two external drives - one a Raid system, the other a NAS drive (like having your own server - I can access my files anywhere, on any device, even my phone!). The Raid drive is not in the house but in the shed - just in case...!

So, that's four copies of my data on different drives...

The next part of safeguarding my photos is archiving them. I consider this to be a different from backing up. Backing-up protects my photos while archiving preserves them for longevity (and easy access). I've just got around to doing this, partly because of the advent of M-Disc DVD-R technology.

M-Disc DVDs can, in theory, last 1000 years, and they're created by laser etching a pattern into an inert, stone-like material. There are plenty of tests (like this one) that show how tough they are.

The DVD-R format has been around for over 20 years (almost as long as JPG), and has become the norm - there's even an ISO international standard for it. So, DVD-R discs will be readable for many more decades. Granted, this may take a little effort in the future - just as for, say, reading a 1980s 5.25 in. floppy or playing a 1960s 8-track music cartridge today; my point is that, yes, stuff becomes obsolete, but once-common technology is fairly easy to revive). And, of course, that assumes the data is kept on the DVDs and not transferred to whatever takes their place.

My archiving scheme for each of my photo projects:

• Burn my photos on to an M-Disc DVD-R.
• Print info on the DVD and store in an archival acid-free sleeve.
• Make archival-quality A4 (8 x 11 in.) size prints of my photos.
• Include an index print - thumbnails of all the photos, in the
correct order and with captions (if any).
• Include a printed sheet of background info on the project.
• Store all the above in an archival-quality portfolio box.

A stack of portfolio boxes conveniently fit in a steel file box, so that's where they'll end up. The box will clearly labelled, and my family will be well aware that this is my photo archive!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg M disc.jpg (28.1 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg boxes.jpg (32.5 KB, 2 views)
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Old 07-17-2018   #2
presspass
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We back up our digital photos on one external hard drive and then back that drive up on a second external hard drive. The film negs are filed by week in Printfile neg pages and stored in loose leaf binders by week. Each year takes four three-inch binders. The wet prints are stored in Ilford or, for the really old ones, Kodak paper boxes. Now that I've reached a certain age, I need to decide what should become of the negatives. Any suggestions?
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Old 07-17-2018   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by presspass View Post
Now that I've reached a certain age, I need to decide what should become of the negatives. Any suggestions?
I'm in my early 50s so hopefully I've plenty of tread left...

However, I wrote my will several years ago.

I've sensibly appended notes of where I keep stuff and what to do with it. That includes my photos - there's a request to distribute prints to people who will appreciate them, plus pass my photography archive to someone who's already agreed to look after it and maintain my website.

I intend to haunt friends and family via my photographs...!
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Old 07-17-2018   #4
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I back up to several external hard drives. I have two archives. One is the LR working Library folder (i.e., unmodified, lossless compressed DNG files). The second is every raw file I ever imported into LR. The former is much smaller than the later.

The LR Library exists on four separate external drives. It also backed up to Amazon's Cloud. The raw file archive exists on two separate drives. The LR Catalog also exists on four separate devices.

These backups are automatic or semi-automatic. This means when I'm using the computer one set of LR backups (Library and Catalog) is updated hourly. I don't use RAID.

As everyone says, all external drives eventually fail. I typically replace the external drives every two years. The old drives are kept in a closet. The last time I bought a 3 TB drive it cost less than $100. It was faster than the retired 2 TB drive.

I also have 6 notebooks full of negatives/transparencies. Those I consider keepers were scanned as high-resolution, flat TIFF files using VueScan.

I keep prints in portfolio boxes.
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Old 07-17-2018   #5
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the one crucial component missing from your plan is regular migration to new physical media and file formats. you should migrate to current storage systems every 5 years to deal with obsolescence, media degradation, and file corruption. a simple spreadsheet inventory would also be helpful for future access.

the digital preservation coalition has lots of important info on how to do this right. everyone should read their digipres handbook.
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Old 07-17-2018   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aizan View Post
the one crucial component missing from your plan is regular migration to new physical media and file formats. you should migrate to current storage systems every 5 years to deal with obsolescence, media degradation, and file corruption. a simple spreadsheet inventory would also be helpful for future access.

the digital preservation coalition has lots of important info on how to do this right. everyone should read their digipres handbook.
Aizan,

Your link is misspelled. This works: https://dpconline.org/knowledge-base/
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Old 07-17-2018   #7
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Thanks! Fixed it.
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Old 07-17-2018   #8
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LR, export catalog (files) with saved metadata to external redundant storage or to separate two external HDD.
Save highres JPEG1 to the cloud (Google Drive, Filckr). Cloud is DR. Disaster Recovery.

DVD might last few decades, but to read them you need a device. Nobody knows for how long this periferal will be manufactured and supported.
I know only one customer with DVD based archive. Installed, but it was too slow.
DVD capacity now is same as floppy capacity ten years ago.
One terabyte (nothing special personal photo archive) is 200+ DVDs.
I'm close to 3 TB with home video included. It is close to 700 DVDs.

Media archives is disks and tape. Updated once disks and tape drives are out of support. But usually they run out of capacity earlier .
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Old 07-18-2018   #9
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Puzzled

Quote:
Originally Posted by aizan View Post
the one crucial component missing from your plan is regular migration to new physical media and file formats. you should migrate to current storage systems every 5 years to deal with obsolescence, media degradation, and file corruption. a simple spreadsheet inventory would also be helpful for future access.

the digital preservation coalition has lots of important info on how to do this right. everyone should read their digipres handbook.
"I typically replace the external drives every two years. The old drives are kept in a closet. "

How is this not a "regular migration" strategy.

Instead of a spreadsheet I add a readme.txt file to each retired drive with the necessary information about the contents.
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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 07-18-2018   #10
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Outdoor Photographer magazine just finished a 4 part article on this subject. I'm sure it 's available on their website.
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Old 07-18-2018   #11
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willie, i was replying to the OP. you’re running ahead of schedule!
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Old 07-18-2018   #12
Bob Michaels
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I see the archiving issue as totally different that everyone else here. I believe everyone is overemphasizing the technical aspects of preservation while grossly underestimating the human factors being able to later access key images.



Future generations or even yourself decades down the road will find a million images perpetually preserved to be worthless. What everyone will want is the top 100, maybe top 1,000 at best. Burying them in everything else you have done makes them essentially unavailable. All those sophisticated indexing techniques using year 211X technology will be long forgotten. You will have only left the equivalent of a carefully preserved pile of rubble with a few gemstones mixed in.



This year my sisters and I are using family photos archived by our parents back in the 1940's and 50's, our youth. The one important factor is that there are some 30-40 photos each year of our family history. We don't care the negatives are long gone. We don't care that we have to scan small prints from photo albums. We are just thrilled that our family history is summarized.



I must admit that in spite of me being a photographer our children's growing up and same for our grandchildren is actually documented poorly compared to our generation. Just too many images over the years.



My exhibition work fortunately exists as actual large prints. The negatives are still here but I would be challenged to find them among all the others. Same for digital copies. So it makes minor difference that they are just backed up on redundant hard drives as well as the cloud and not diamond engraved on something to last for light years.
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Old 07-18-2018   #13
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redacted bodies of work will be important for your descendants and maybe other researchers, but there is probably value in saving everything as well. the way people photograph has been changed by the ease of taking larger quantities of photos. computer vision and other technologies will make it easier to make sense of large image collections.

artist archives such as yours benefit from the good access that comes from being well organized and described. it gives people insight into your working processes, how you selected and edited images, what you were trying to achieve, and who knows what else (besides promoting and selling work).
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Old 07-18-2018   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Michaels View Post
I see the archiving issue as totally different that everyone else here. I believe everyone is overemphasizing the technical aspects of preservation while grossly underestimating the human factors being able to later access key images.
OP here: I agree totally, Bob... what you’re talking about is what I call “archiving”.

If you look at my initial post, I divided copying/preserving digital images into two tasks:

• Backing-up
• Archiving

Backing-up is for my use - it duplicates my data so I can restore it if files are lost or damaged. Archiving, in contrast, is selected work organised for other people to access easily.

Archiving extracts individual photos organised into projects, comprising (1) both digital images and text files on an archival DVD and (2) photographic prints and printed text of the DVD contents - including an explanation of the project, and what the files are and how they arranged.

The archive won’t contain dross - just the stuff that I normally have in exhibitions, plus background (e.g. hanging plans, catalogue text, etc.).
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Old 07-18-2018   #15
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Negatives in binders. I keep a backup HD with all my scans on it and I keep a lot of stuff in Dropbox.
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Old 07-18-2018   #16
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an archivist would take all of your materials and probably call it “the richc papers.” then there would be a series for your backups, and a series for your redacted projects (what you’re calling “archives”). maybe one sub-series for each “archive.”

an archives is all of the documents produced by a source (at least the ones that make it through the appraisal process), but you’ve got it right that archiving is about selecting, organizing, describing, and preserving materials to make it easy to access in the future.
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Old 07-18-2018   #17
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I take a different slant on this stuff too.

What I actively want to be preserved, I make into a book and register with the LoC, send them an archive representation digitally. Their backup procedures will outlast mine. Of course, the difficulty of finding my work in the megalithic storage systems of the LoC is there... Only someone actually determined to find me is going to get to that work.

What I do at home is print regularly the photos I have made—and finished—with good, archival ink and paper and file them into archival storage boxes. I try to include with those prints enough provenance to allow them to be understood in the context of my life and thoughts.

And beyond that, in the digital storage realm, I have an elaborate system of working drives, backup and archive drives, and in my "life paperwork" a description of how to find things in it. If anyone cares enough, everything I've done photographically is accessible that way. My partner and my photo friends all know about it, and that includes two members of my blood family.

There's nothing else I can really think of to do at this point. Yeah, cloud storage and off-site storage would be good, but becomes irrelevant once I'm not around to pay for it anymore ... and I seriously doubt any of my friends or family would ever take on the burden of paying for it or downloading all the terabytes of it.

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Old 07-18-2018   #18
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godfrey, i think you mean biographical information instead of provenance. this page has the archivist’s definition of provenance:

http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/archive-c...rovenance.html

just being nitpicky.
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Old 07-19-2018   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aizan View Post
willie, i was replying to the OP. you’re running ahead of schedule!
My apologies.
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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 07-19-2018   #20
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Archives and duplication and not mutually exclusive.
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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.
Garry Winogrand
williamchuttonjr.com
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Old 07-19-2018   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aizan View Post
godfrey, i think you mean biographical information instead of provenance. this page has the archivist’s definition of provenance:

http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/archive-c...rovenance.html

just being nitpicky.


Perhaps, but my definition of provenance departs slightly from that one, including situational context of the making rather than mostly record of ownership.

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