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My Analogue Life: Raiding the Archives

It never ceases to astound me how much our eye changes. A photograph we may have considered one of our best three years ago may bring us close to a cringe today. Certain shots we may have thought were oh-so-original now seem cliché. But looking back through our previous work isn’t always embarrassing. In fact, a leisurely browse through your personal archives can often yield some surprising — and delightful — discoveries.

As our tastes evolve and change so does what we consider “good.” It’s easy to pass over a particular photograph when you’re looking for — or expecting — something else. I spent a recent afternoon searching through old images, trying to find a specific shot. The exercise shouldn’t have taken long, but once I happened upon a long-forgotten photo of my daughter in a vintage dress looking for ladybugs in the grass, I was prompted to keep looking. Soon the afternoon had evaporated and my evening was spent excited and scanning old pictures that were quickly becoming new favourites.

An occasional trip down memory lane has now become a ritual I enjoy, especially on a chilly day best spent in pajamas or when I’m disappointed and bored with my latest shots and lacking inspiration. Although I’m going through the same images over and over, I always find something new — or at least see it that way every time out.

Our archives can be one of the best sources for a fresh idea, even though it’s not always a great photograph that prompts it. Maybe it’s just a little thing: a certain angle that makes the image unique or perhaps you’ve noticed an object in the background that deserves to be front-and-centre in its own photograph. Whatever the case, a trip through your archives is almost certain to stir up ideas and inspiration. And who knows — tucked in amongst those new shots you’re taking may just be that one picture that ends up being the gem you spot in your archives months from now because by that time, your eye will have evolved and changed yet again.

What photos have you discovered when searching through your old negs and prints? Share your shots and stories with me!

Pamela Klaffke is a former newspaper and magazine journalist who now works as a novelist and photographer. Her column appears weekly in the Analogue Lifestyle section of Lomography Magazine.

written by pamelaklaffke

9 comments

  1. nicolas_noir

    nicolas_noir

    Gorgeous as usual Pamela! I wonder what happened to all my teenage rolls of film! I'm pretty sure most of them are attrocious as I didn't have a clue what I was doing with the camera I was using! I'm going to go back and catalogue my more recent negatives though, especially ones where I wasn't that happy with the prints. Wish film photography wasn't so dependent on negative scanners!

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  2. mephisto19

    mephisto19

    i know what you mean! as i hardly have prints for me it is strange to look through the ones i did print after a while, wondering WHY i did it...
    for me it is interesting to see, how the community here reacts on shots. i have my favourites, but sometimes they are simply not be seen (like a -in my eyes- great double exposure i made with horizon looking pretty boring first because you do hardly see the double, but looking closer it is somehow not working, perspective is changing,...) http://www.lomograph(…)ble/6318510 FIVE likes so far. but looking at it after a while, i still like it.
    i often find shots when i am looking for rumble submissions... it is like "oh yes, you took that one" and that is a nice feeling.
    but - i should tag my shots more carefully!

    beautiful photo by the way and i hope your arm is getting better and better... looking forward to your next article

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  3. stouf

    stouf

    I browsed through my archives for old Nikonos shots recently, and found some crazy shots... For instance, this one: ( http://www.lomograph(…)os/11957448 ) was not uploaded earlier because the first time I saw it (I think around 2004) I thought 'got damn' all these flares !!!' And now I see it I think 'she's bathing in light snow flakes'... So you're article perfectly fits with what I felt a few weeks ago. Thanks Pamela for another perfect article.

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  4. mephisto19

    mephisto19

    oh.... and i still have MANY films taken befor i started lomography.... i still want to scan them, but i have so many new rolls that i am happy not spending too much time with the scanner... ;)

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  5. mikahsupageek

    mikahsupageek

    And once again, another fantastic article Pam. Hope your arm is healing well. As for me, well I've only been taking photos for a year now... and i often look at my first shots i ever took with my first analogue camera, beautiful Diana, even though I have many new favorite shots, I think that this one will remain my first favorite... Funny on how things evolve. More and more I find set up photos are more intreresting to work on. To actually take the time of imagining an image in my mind and try to create it on film is so far my favorite way of shooting.
    http://www.lomograph(…)os/11036590
    In this one I just asked my family not to move for a 2-3min long exposure and to slighty shake their heads, thus giving a blurry faceless effect.

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  6. pamelaklaffke

    pamelaklaffke

    nicolas_noir: you should definitely dig out your old stuff and see if you can find your teenage photos! i have boxes of my old photos, dating back to when i got my first camera (a kodak instamatic circa 1977 for my first trip to california), and while most are not terrific photographs, they are certainly fun to look at.
    mephisto19: i really like that shot of yours! the perspective is great and odd in a good way. and it's true that it can be surprising how people here or on other photo sites like flickr react to an image. sometimes, i'll think something is really interesting, but other people don't seem to see it or a shot i thought was sort of a throw-away will end up being really popular. part of the difference is, i think, that i print my images and always have that in my head and things can translate very differently online. i also like to print my exhibition images really big, and there are certain shots that have to be large to have the same impact.
    stouf: sun flare and other "imperfect" lighting can make you overlook shots that are actually quite arresting because it's not consider technically ideal. i found that i had a very similar experience and it took a little while to get over it and to the point where i'll shoot flare and such on purpose. love that underwater shot, by the way!
    mikahsupageek: indeed, the arm is getting better slowly, but surely. it's still in a sling and i can't yet straighten it, but hopefully one day soon.... the saturated colours of your "faceless" shot are fabulous — i love shooting with EPY too; the tungsten slide films always do such crazy things when shot in regular light and then cross-processed. i, too, like to plan my shots. i always carry a camera in my purse for out-and-about snapshots, but anything major, i always plan.

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  7. marja

    Oh, that photo is so beautiful....
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  8. erinwoodgatesphotography

    erinwoodgatesphotography

    I totally agree! I can't wait to go back to Australia and go through all my film. I also left some disposable cameras there with the film shot but not developed, will be interesting to see them as well :)

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  9. dogma

    dogma

    Love the key picture!

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Spanish.