Have you ever asked yourself what you would save from the flames of your burning house?
We are talking treasured possessions here, not loved ones or pets – of course you’d save them first!
So, what are the things that really matter to you, those things that would upset you most if they were suddenly no longer in your life?
I’m not overly sentimental about possessions. Nor am I overly materialistic. A day spent going shopping is for me, a day wasted. I have lots of books. I own hundred of records and CDs and I suppose I’d be more than a little annoyed if my vinyl succumbed to the flames, but unless I had time to rescue them, that would probably be their fate.
I’m a photographer. I create photographic images. I own lots of cameras. Some new and cutting edge. Some old and rarely used, more ornaments than tools. I’d grab a couple of those if I had time. It’s all insured. The cameras lenses and other equipment that I use day in and day out to earn my living are all easily replaceable. I could order new ones and have them in my possession the next working day.
You might imagine that photographs would come high on my list of priorities and you’d be right. In these days of digital images my work is taken care of by a sophisticated system of archiving and off site back up that I won’t bore you with now, but suffice to say if Starns Towers burned down tomorrow, I could have access to my entire digital library of images within 24 hours. That includes all my professional work as well as all my personal and family photographs, videos and my kids school reports and their innumerable childhood artworks.
So what does that leave that’s not taken care of to rescue from the fiery furnace? Photographs. Proper old school, images shot on film dating back to my days as a fresh faced photography student and beyond. Hold in your hand photographs of my young family before the days when digital photography became mainstream. Photographs on paper. Images of my parents and grandparents. Negatives of silver halide delicately suspended in gelatine. Images of loved ones long gone, a reminder of what life used to be like in bygone times.
Bundled in Ilford photographic paper boxes. Some created way before my time. Hundreds of slides in aluminium cases. Trips to far away continents shot on Kodak Ektachrome and amongst them my most treasured possessions. Treasured because they are irreplaceable.
Here’s a really interesting project called The Burning House that documents the possessions that contributors would save if their home spontaneously combusted, do take a look. Also, here’s a compelling argument for printing those cherished digital images.
Hold your loved ones, print your photographs. Have a lovely day.