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Photocollection - Future Trash?  
User currently offlineSKYMASTER From Denmark, joined Apr 2001, 228 posts, RR: 1
Posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 1553 times:

I have wondered what will become of my photo collection when I am no more. How do I prepare to donate or sell the collection, and will any organization/museum accept it with joy? I suppose, if I have a small collection of pictures of 50-60 years of age, that will be a rarity. But how about pictures taken 2 weeks ago? If you look at the statistics on A.net you will see what I mean:

1910-49 53
1950-59 613
1960-69 2.762
1970-79 5.675
1980-89 13.903
1990-01 189.576

As clearly shown in the figures, people take more pictures now than ever before. I you look at a old picture from a big airshow say from the 5o´s, you will see very few people with a camera. Those who carried a camera were most likely from the press! If you look down the front line of spectators at present airshows you will see 1000´s of tele lenses pointing in the air. All these people have photo big collections, and will some time in the future face the same problem. Or at least their love ones will, when they pass away. If no one in the family have aircraft photo as a hobby, it will most likely end up in the garbage can! If you choose to donate the pictures to a museum, I can imagine they will get a owerflow of pictures from the big amount of photographers we have today. If the museums decide only to accept real old pictures, I think they will miss a lot of valuable information.
If you choose the other sollution of selling your collection, I can predict falling prices when all the collectors from the 70´s are starting to pass away.

Have you any good idea of what to do?


21 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineGlenn From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2005, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 1435 times:

Don't die  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

User currently offlineSKYMASTER From Denmark, joined Apr 2001, 228 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 1425 times:

Sorry Glenn
No one last forever, even you


User currently offlineGlenn From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2005, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 1412 times:

Gasp, you don't mean  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

Personally I don't have that problem to worry about, my 10 year old has already asked for my stuff when I die

 Smile/happy/getting dizzy

User currently offlineADG From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 1394 times:

He can't have them, i'm going to auction them all off and buy myself a toyboy with the proceeds.



User currently offlinePUnmuth@VIE From Austria, joined Aug 2000, 4164 posts, RR: 52
Reply 5, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 1391 times:


User currently offlineTurbotrent From Belgium, joined Jan 2002, 152 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 1360 times:

I think it's more an emotional problem. I think if you die, your love ones wont put your photos in the garbage can because they know the photos where important for you. I think they will probably put them in a shoebox or something. And then manny manny years later perhaps someone will find them on the attic and say:' Hey look, a 747 from 2002!! Wow! '  Smile



Man's flight through life is sustained by the power of his knowledge.
User currently offlineSKYMASTER From Denmark, joined Apr 2001, 228 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 1351 times:

I still believe that a lot of historical material are lost forever if we do not plan it well.
What I mean is will the museums or national collections be able to recieve and store the increasing amount of pictures? I think A.net can play a vital part in keeping as much as possible for future generations.

User currently offlineEGGD From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2001, 12443 posts, RR: 32
Reply 8, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 1352 times:

As long as the internet is around, there will be billions of photos on the internet, and guess what, thanks to digital cameras, and the digitalizing of 'traditional' methods through scanning, these photos will retain their original state for .. well, forever, if nothing happens to them.



User currently offlineLanpie From Canada, joined Aug 2000, 297 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 1351 times:

It is a good subject for people who are collecting items related to aviation.

In my area there is a club The Montreal Airliner's Club, some of our members tought about what would happen to their collections of aircraft postcards, slides and photos.

One of them, put information in his will that is aircraft and airport postcards to be given to the National Aviation Museum in Ottawa. Other members tought of giving them to their kids.

May be people who have historical aviation items should contact an aviation museum of their country and make some agreement to donate the items to the museum.



User currently offlineSkymonster From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 1346 times:


I think that this is a good question. I know of one person who sadly and prematurely passed away within the last 12 months whos collection did indeed go totally to waste, mainly because those who "knew" what the collection consisted of, and immediate relatives who would have had sympathy with those seriously interested, could not access the collection because of a slightly wierd bequeath.

Whilst this may be a grim subject, I believe that there is a responsibility on us, particularly those who have stuff from years ago that may have historical interest, to ensure that there is at least an opportunity for someone in the know - someone who might understand what the pictures represent - to make the best of the collection if and when we go.

On a personal level, I have little interest in realising any value out of a photographic collection after I pass away, and in comparison to other things the collection may well be an insignificant issue. What I am sure is that dealing with it will be left to someone who has more than a passing interest and can make a genuine value judgement on what the collection represents - this person is almost certainly not going to be the nearest and dearest, or a close relative.



User currently offlineTomH From United States of America, joined May 1999, 960 posts, RR: 2
Reply 11, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 1341 times:

Locate a museum that has a respected aircraft photo collection. Talk to them about their accession policy. What are they looking for, and in what format? It’s a fact that newer material will be less welcome, but what you shoot today might eventually be of value to someone. I have done this, and at present have about 500 images in a museum's collection here in the States, and hope to contribute more as time allows. Some museums, I am told, will keep what they want and sell the rest off. Something to ask when you approach such an organization.

How will digital shooters answer the question of “Where will my photos go?” Those who have not uploaded 100% of their shots to A.net might want to know. If the images are backed up onto a common media, and that seems to be CD-R right now, then I suppose you can shop the media around looking for a home for them. But just like traditional photos/negs/slides, it’s better that you, the photographer, do this work. Your survivors and and-of-runway buddies will not have the same level of incentive.

Speaking of EOR shots. Let’s face it, there is overkill here. We see it on A.net. We see it at airshows (though probably less than 10% of all airshow shots are high quality). We see it at photo tours. I shot the Griffis AFB flightline in the ECAP group about 8 years ago. Each aircraft was photographed about 350 times, and I wonder to this day what we accomplished. But the camaraderie made it worth it, along with the outrageous remarks and stories. Anyway, we sure were guilty of overkill.

I once had photos refused by an historical organization because they “were too current and had no historical value.” This response of theirs really pissed me off, and I quit the organization then and there. About 20 years later I was a member again, and they were glad to publish my photos. In an unrelated matter they pissed me off again and I quit again, but that’s another story.

Collection buyers exist, but I know little of their activities save for one or two. The one or two I am talking about buy collections and then send the images around to print publications where many of them appear credited to the buyer’s name, rather than the original photographer.

I heard a photographer tell me he was thinking of destroying his collection rather than let it fall into the hands of unscrupulous buyers. I was shocked. Since then, through reading various photo magazines, I have learned that this has happened on a number occasions with famous photographers of the 1920s through 1950s. I don’t know what was going through the minds of these particular photographers, but I know that I have an increasing dislike for those who persist in getting their names attached to the work of others.

There are many on A.net who are taking pictures for fun and who don't care about archival life or historical value. Anyone who has read the Kodachrome film topics know what I am talking about. Still, with the passage of time and ongoing investment in a collection, even the more casual shooters are likely to ask the questions you have posed, Erik.

User currently offlineSKYMASTER From Denmark, joined Apr 2001, 228 posts, RR: 1
Reply 12, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 1324 times:

Thanks Tom.
Your words has precisely summed up on my thoughts
on the subject. I hope this will not be taken as old folks talk. Young photographers can also learn something on this. We all do not know when we are the next in the line for the pearly gate!

User currently offlineSouthflite From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 1327 times:

Glenn talking about his ten-year old reminds of me of one of my greatest regrets - that I didn't develop an interest in aircraft earlier! I spent the whole of the 80's (my teens) being captivated by ships ... so instead of going off to the airport and building up an aircraft photo collection, I got my parents to take me down to the harbour, and now I sit with a bunch of photos of ships and tugboats that I have virtually lost all interest in. I haven't even bothered to scan many of them, but here's one of my poorer efforts (instamatic - and heavily compressed for here) from 1980/1:

Such is life...  Sad

User currently offlineJan Mogren From Sweden, joined Dec 2000, 2043 posts, RR: 46
Reply 14, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 1328 times:

Those Geocities shots are all quite similar  Wink/being sarcastic

More seriously I think old slides belong to collectors, not museums. We had a man here in my hometown who had a great collection from the 20'ies onward and when he died the collection was handed to the museum of aviation in Sweden. Now it's burried deep down somewhere for no one to see. (Like the Arch in "Raiders of the lost Arch")
When I lay my hands on an old beauty slide from the sixties I'm happy like a child! In the museum nobody would feel that way.........

AeroPresentation - Airline DVD's filmed in High Definition
User currently offlineLindy field From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 3171 posts, RR: 11
Reply 15, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 1293 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

The San Diego Aerospace Museum is compiling a large archive of aviation related photographs. If I remember correctly their collection may number as high as a million shots.(Don't quote me on that!) I think archival access is not so difficult for those willing to pay a membership fee.(Don't quote me on that either!) In the meanwhile, your collection can attain immortality by being uploaded here. For at least as long as airliners.net exists...

User currently offlineCkw From UK - England, joined Aug 2010, 813 posts, RR: 12
Reply 16, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 1274 times:

Something to consider -

A collection is much more useful if it is well documented. A box full of pics is of limited historical value unless the where, when, and other pertinant details can be easily established by the historian/collector - this alone will distinguish a few from the many shots taken at an airshow/airport

If you are really worried about passing on your collection to future generations, a) are you thoroughly documenting it? and b) what measures are you taking to ensure this documentation remains associated with the image?

One thing I've appreciated with digital images is tha ability to have camera data embedded in the image file ... it would probably be a good idea to do the same with info about the aircraft etc. Otherwise, the carefully backup CD-R of pics could easily become separated from the data held in another database file.



Colin K. Work, Pixstel
User currently offlineTomH From United States of America, joined May 1999, 960 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 1279 times:

If I had lived near a large airport my photographic interests would likely have remained with aviation only. By 1970 I could see that there was going to be a continuing decline in military airfields witihin a days ride of where I lived. For the past 8 years or so there has been only one such active duty base in all of New England/New York area. (There was about 15 bases in this geographic area when I starting shotting aircraft). I don't regret that I cultivated an interest in railroad photography about 30 years ago. I have had many pleasant outings as a result of it. I have even managed a shot or two of a ship now and then. Sometimes I have tried to combine two subects and uploaded a dozen shots similar to this

Click for large version
Click here for full size photo!

Photo © Tom Hildreth

but the purists complained they couldn't tell if it was a photo of an aircraft or a ship. I'm glad the screeners/Johan were able to see these were photos of an event, and a worth while one at that. Question to the BOS photographers: Where were you that day?-you missed it boys!

There is no guarantee that a collector is going to be willing to show his collection to others. As for getting a collection sealed in a museum's archive and not being available to the public, this is why you have to communicate with the organization first. You have to know what they are like, and what their policies are. It's not perfect, but I suspect far too many collections have ended up in the trash over the years because photographers were not willing to do this.

From what I have seen over the years, the most common environmental threats to large photo collections are house fires (common in my part of the States), and floods from plumbing problems. If you combine this with improper storage, such as keeping a collection in a damp basement, far too many collections are lost. Taking an even greater toll is loss of a collection post-mortem. This is when grieving relatives, overburdened by having to attend to loss of one close to them simply throw the collection out. I believe it happens all the time. You can avoid this by including collection-specific information in your will. But you need to have identified a future home for it first.

User currently offlineTomH From United States of America, joined May 1999, 960 posts, RR: 2
Reply 18, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 1271 times:

Absolutely correct. The who, what, where and when are of utmost importance-and one of the reasons having the reg # in the picture is so important. Doing this documentation work correctly takes about as much time as a second job. It was, in fact, one of the reasons I was rather glad to slack off on trading slides and negs and concentrate on my own photography instead. Even with the use of a computer, there is an awful lot of labor involved when labelling slides and negs. Bad enough when they are your own, but it can get to be an overload when corresponding with 6-8 other photographers.

A side note on the importance of format. One collection buyer I know has assembled a truly large collection. Through acquisitions, his B&W selection goes back to the 1940s. He is very cooperate in that I can request something from him and before long I can count on getting something pretty close to what I need. However, it often arrives in the form of a 616 negative, in a plain glassine envelope with no photographers name and no additional information as to who, what, when and where.

As much as I like seeing these great old negatives, there is a problem. Having one of these negatives is a bit like having a great image file in some format you can't open. You need to have a proffessional quality enlarger to handle a negative this size, or be willing to pay a fortune to send it off to a custom lab to have it printed. In other words, what was the negative's main advantage, large size, is at this point in time a real detractor that can prevent its use. This is especially true if you are working on one of these "non-profit" projects that will not bring any compensation your way.

To go off on another related subject, collectors need to know how to handle their material, or it won't be worth much. I'll never forget the time a guy invited me into his house for the first time. It was morning, and he wanted to show me a batch of slides he just recieved. He pulled out a bag of jelly doughnuts and while eating them, began to sort through the slides manually. He handed me a great USAF F-104 Kodachrome, and all over it was jelly and sugar that he had just gotten on it. For me this was like watching a bad dream. Hopefully, anyone who reads this knows better than this fellow, who got out of the aircraft slide business after a few frenetic years. I have found that tea, coffee, and beer go acceptably well when handling slides. Food does not.

User currently offlineLanpie From Canada, joined Aug 2000, 297 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (14 years 3 months 3 weeks 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 1232 times:

I agree with Tom and Colin, a collection of photos or slides of aircraft has to be documented and protected properly.

For the majority of my slides, I keep them in metal slide boxes and my photos in plastic sheets inside an album.

For documentation, on each slide, I wrote the type of aircraft, registration, serial number, airline, date and where it was taken. For photos, I keep a seperate record.



User currently offlineMidway DC9-10 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 265 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (14 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 1188 times:

Great Subject!

I have almost every slide bought or shot by myself listed on a spreadsheet. It is like a second job but it is worth it for reasons mentioned above, and it helps me recall what I have and don't have.

I have even written a letter to friends which identifies what my aviation belongings are, where they are and what to do with them in case something happens to me. I would hate to have my relatives give this away to wrong people. They would have no idea what this could all be worth.


User currently offlineAlaskaairlines From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 2054 posts, RR: 14
Reply 21, posted (14 years 3 months 2 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 1178 times:

I'll take them.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy


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