Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 911

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A local radio talk show host is doing a 911 tribute this afternoon, and I am trying my best to keep it together. I’m not doing very well.

Flawed Workflow

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The more progress I make with this cleanup the more I realize how much is yet ahead of me. It isn’t as if I had dumped files on random hard drives with no system at all; still, I have found my system woefully wanting. Part of my problem is that I got completely shutter-happy for several months this year and my shaky system was overwhelmed. It was overwhelmed partly because the system was weak, but mostly because I got took hundreds of pictures and began rushing to the next batch of photos before I completed the workflow on the previous one.

As for my filling system, it isn’t as if I hadn’t spent hours reading articles about workflow and organization. But, not surprisingly, if you read twelve experts on organization of files you get twelve different plans for surefire solutions. At this point, I am more convinced than ever that some of this flailing about it is an inevitable part of the process. I suspect that ultimately, each of us has to establish a system that works for us. For example, I remember studying the workflow of one individual who organizes all his files almost exclusively by numbers, assigning each project a unique number. Ugh, my head hurts just thinking about it. Though I learned early on that some numbers, dates and file numbers for example, are essential, that expert’s methods would turn me into a whimpering wreck in less than a month.

My method of organizing my files is still in flux and that is the major problem. The biggest problem was procrastination. I put off the drudgery work and had fun. Am I contrite? Not really. Yes, I now face an unholy mess. But, I had a grand time creating it, and I learned a great deal. It will be a long slow process, but I am getting closer to sorting out the chaos.

And then, there’s the anxiety about some of the photos I am tossing. Believe me, in spite of my jokes about machetes and General Sherman tactics, I am proceeding somewhat cautiously. Confidence in my editing abilities has grown in the last year, but I have a ways to go in that department. I still consider myself a near-beginner at this photography thing and a hungry student.

There were some interesting comments on my last post about editing old files and I noted the anxiety others face when deleting old photos. I would love to hear some ideas on workflow systems.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Paying the Price

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You know those news stories that include a photo of the usually slump-shouldered elderly person in the baggy, soiled sweater with the hair pointing every possible direction who has been exposed as a pack rat? The next photo shows an appalling scene of stacked newspapers, tin cans, empty cereal boxes, and all sorts of debris that normal people discard. We shake our heads and say, “How does something like this happen to a person?” Well, those are the pictures that have come to mind as I have buried myself in the chore of cleaning out old files. I feel far too much like the person in that first photo.

Since I began taking pictures, I have been sloppy about editing. Like many of us, I suspect, I would much rather take photos than face filing duty. I not only don’t mind photo processing, but usually enjoy it. It is the downloading, editing, and keywording that are drudgery. As for cleaning out folders and discarding pictures in old folders—that I will postpone until I can’t avoid it any longer. Oh, sure, I will occasionally get serious and clean out a handful of old files, but it has always been tough for me to be ruthless and, mostly, I have taken the easy way out by deleting a handful of obvious losers and promising myself to get back to a folder later.

The time is here. I can’t simply continue adding external hard drives. At last, I have begun going through old folders and this job calls for a machete. I need to channel my inner General Sherman. (Yes, that is a gentle swipe at The Husband and his style of landscaping.)

I did notice as I started this project a few days ago (yes, that’s where I have been—buried under piles of electronic debris and obsessed with cleaning up the mess.) I will say that that the task is easier this time around. Because I have been taking hundreds of photos in the last several months, it is finally easier to discard marginal pictures that could possibly be saved. Besides, I faced the fact that I can’t simply continue to add more external hard drives. Another scene that has been popping into my mind, recently, is one where I place the newest hard drive at the end of the row and my desk collapses in a heap of dust.