The Library of Photography: A Temporary Archive for Photographs

I have an idea for a photographic service, perhaps called The Library of Photography, that I think could be quite useful for photographers, though not Nowographers.

See it would be for archiving actual photographs by photographers to be delivered to people at a later time, once the photographs become valuable.

We are often making photographs and creating work that documents our lives, including those of our families and friends. Real photographs, not just digital cloud files.

No one wants them now, they have no value in the present. But they will someday. So, we need a place to save these photographs. We have shoeboxes and archival binders, which are perfectly good and would work.

But with this service, for a fee, a photographer could send them to be archived in a temperature-controlled facility kind of like the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Library of Congress has, a place that would keep the photographs safe for decades. Then, on a prescribed date, say 10-20 years, the photographs would be released to the family in albums to relive those special and significant moments in their lives that they have long ago lost the photos from due to files buried in dozens of hard drives with no easy way to locate them or that simply no longer work.

So, say I went to my friends’ grandson’s first birthday party. Everyone at the party made photos on their phone. Everyone shared them immediately and no one had any intention of doing anything more with them, certainly not printing them. I had no reason to add more to the large quantity they already had. Instead, since I made a handful of photos myself, I could have them printed, and then send them to be archived at The Library of Photography–physical prints that would be put in a folder in a box on a shelf, just like museums keep their collections safely stored.

The service would include archiving them and at a prescribed date, say until August 30, 2041–twenty years from the date of creation–shipping them off. On that date, they would automatically be delivered to the family as designated on the delivery order that was set up.

There would have to be a staff working at The Library of Photography placing photographs into folders and pulling photo sets out on the scheduled delivery dates. It could be a worldwide archive of photography that would preserve family historical photographs and deliver the prints back to the family to relive after some time had passed–long after the moments photographed had happened and been forgotten.

Imagine the surprise when the family received the photographs after so many years. This is the essence of photography–the ability to go back in time.

It could even be done without their awareness that we were saving these photographs, in effect a surprise that awaits them in twenty years.

Or we could do it ourselves, put them in a binder or album, file it away and wait. 10-20 years goes by quicker than we think. Then, it’s time for a wonderful surprise. No need to pay for the service if we want to do it ourselves.

A gift of time travel in the form of a photo album of memories of that day oh so long ago. The value of photography, a way to step back and revisit a moment from our past.

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