Life After Death: Preserving Your Archive

Over at PDNOnline, Sarah Coleman has a good piece up on how to prepare your archive for, well, when you’re not here anymore.

Not many photographers put a lot of thought into this, but they should. Copyright extends 70 years after our passing and is controlled by our heirs, who may or may not have any idea of what to do with the physical material or the intellectual property it represents.

The father of one of my colleagues spent many years as an architectural photographer in the Atlanta area, documenting much of the city’s mid-20th century build out. He has spent the last few years organizing those negatives, making copious notes about when and where the images were made, and has now made a deal with the University of Georgia’s Special Collection library to preserve those negatives, making them available for research.

Who is the audience for your archive? Is there a high level of monetary or historical value in it? You may have one and not the other, but thinking about these things now – and getting everything organized – will make your passing much easier on those left behind.

Mark E. Johnson

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