Philosophy From a Tea Bag

The other day I was at Whitney’s place, and was offered a cup of tea. While drinking the tea I took a moment and looked at the little tab at the end of the tea bag’s string. Now, I’m not one for the fortune cookie sized philosophical quips that often appear on such products, but this one took me by surprise. Sitting there in near darkness, I realized that my view of why I’m engaged with photography was explained to me in a single sentence.

The purpose of life is to do something that will live forever.
The purpose of life is to do something that will live forever.

For years I’ve been telling people that I often when I take photos, I keep in mind how I hope they will eventually be perceived by people who aren’t even born yet. The ability to preserve the world with a photograph I find to be far more interesting than the other school of thought about photography which is more geared toward expressing one’s emotions. I’ve written this personal philosophy out a few times on various forums across the Internet over the years, and eventually will write a detailed post about it here as well. However, this was the first time I’ve seen the philosophy summed up in such a short, succinct manner.

Since writing my last post about future proofing your work, and reading Mike Johnston’s recent article The Trough of No Value, I’ve decided I need to take action and actually create something that hopefully will live forever.

Unless I manage to become famous as a photographer in my lifetime, I don’t really expect anyone forty years from now to be crawling through my archives of negatives after I die looking for amazing images that represent the already photographically saturated early 21st century. Doubly so since the process of turning a negative into a print is further becoming arcane knowledge by the day. So, I’ve started what I like to call my 100 prints project.

The 100 prints project is quite simple. On an annual, or perhaps biannual basis, I’ll take some time and reach into my archive pull a random page of negatives that I have labeled as misc/street. I’ll quickly review what is contained in those negatives, and prepare a digital file for printing 4×6’s from several image on that page. During these sessions I’ll be hunting for images that I didn’t originally didn’t think were awesome enough to scan for instant gratification by sharing them here or on my Flickr stream. I’ll also be hunting for images that may not hold much worth for many years to come. These would be images of general street scenes and buildings. Scenes that contain buildings, or store fronts before they burn down, go out of business, or get renovated away.

Once I accumulate 100 of these files, I’ll have them printed, and then file them away into a box somewhere. In a few years when this box if full of hundreds or thousands of prints, I think I will finally feel as though I have created something with the potential to live forever.

I’ve already starting preparing the files for the first wave of this project, and so far it really has been one of the more satisfying things I’ve done with my images lately. However, I’ll keep the thoughts I’m accumulating during this process for when I actually get the first batch complete. Until then, here is one image rediscovered in my archives during this project.

Tourists With Binoculars