Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Sorting It All Out
I have been collecting old family photos (other family's photos, not mine) as reference material for the 'People You Know' project for several years and now have a crazyville, hoarder-like pile of them sitting here in my studio. At first I tried organizing them at least into piles of yes, no and maybe, but I didn't really keep up with that and so they eventually ended up all mixed together in several boxes. That disorganization was very overwhelming to me and was one of the reasons I kept putting off getting back to the project last fall. I knew before I could do anything I would have to sort and prioritize the images, which in turn helps me determine the direction to take with the series.
So after quite a bit of procrastination (who me???) I finally began sorting them out yesterday. For some dumb, overly optimistic reason, I had assumed it would only take an afternoon or so to go through 5 million photographs, but now I see that it will take much longer. It took me at least an hour to decide HOW to sort them. At first I thought there only needed to be three piles; yes, no and maybe. Then I thought I should try to keep them together by family (I often get boxes of photos from one family) but they have gotten too scattered for that. Finally I decided that I should make piles based on the subject matter; couples, men, women, children, landscape/buildings. I started with those categories and promptly realized that I would have to add many more; adults WITH children, two people, three people, big groups of people, prom dates, cars, animals/pets, interiors (amazing how many people take pictures of their living rooms!), gardens, Christmas trees, people on horses, the aftermath of big snowstorms, sunbathers on the beach, vacation photos, people eating dinner, weddings, school photos, class photos, and parades.
Then things really got confusing. There was a lot of overlap and I spent entirely too much time stressing about where to place the photo of the car stuck in the snow on the country road or the wedding reception dinner on the beach or the girl holding a cat in front of a Christmas tree.
When I began to seriously consider another pile called 'trifecta' I decided I better chill out and just do the best I could.
The thing is though, it helps me to have them in categories. I like to work in series and am looking at several series within a series here. And even though I am pretty sure that I won't be painting images of little babies or even children in general, they are too cute and I don't do cute even thought this baby is SERIOUSLY cute: I have also learned that I should never say never; I will be keeping every photo no matter how improbable it seems to me now that it will ever be a useful reference to me. Like this one for example: I can't see using it as reference but omg, what a great bad photo! I always laugh when I see that couple dancing and can totally imagine how they must have been moving around the dance floor at this rockin' party. This photo stays and I might even frame it......
Once I get all the photos categorized I will go through each group and pick out a few for the 'yes, I must paint this right now' pile. Foursome is definitely one of those: Foursome
And while sorting them, I have also been obsessing about how to store them. I am good at multi-tasking! The super organized part of me that has been able to fit ten tons of junk into one room wants to go out and buy about 25 nice perfect stackable plastic bins, one for each category. However, the more practical solution is to put them into large ziploc bags and keep them in a file cabinet drawer. Easier to look through them that way, I think, and less expensive even though I do love those bins. heh.