I was at two different places this weekend documenting their demise, their conclusion, businesses calling it quits, wrapping it up, coming to an end. The first was a 95-year-old bar called the Miners Tavern in Erie Colorado whose last night open was Saturday due to its inability to staff the restaurant without raising wages high enough to draw workers. (Full picture story published at RoyStryker.com on 10/7/21)
The second was Haystack Mountain Golf Course in Niwot Colorado which held an outdoor party Sunday to say goodbye after the land and business were bought by a developer for $6 million to build three houses on its 112-acres. (Full picture story published at RoyStryker.com on 10/9/21)
Things change. When they do, there’s no going back. Unless there are photographs. Correct that: Photographs that are able to be found.
We, as documentary photographers, have the ability to make it so they live on forever. Through the photographs there will always be people bellying up to that pub’s maple bar, and golfers walking the fairway to their next hole.
Of course, as a photojournalist, I carry a camera wherever I am to document my world, and it may seem unnecessary to make photos of these places when everyone has a phone out. Lots of folks are taking snaps–what’s the point? But where are they? How will they ever be found?
How will someone find those pictures in 20, 30, 50 years? That’s a good question.
I know where my photographs will be. They are catalogued and archived as well as published on my RoyStryker.com photography project site. They are searchable. This archive of life in America has been being made for almost five years, beginning in 2017. When I make photographs, I have a plan for them, a destination. I know why I’m making them.
Go visit the site, type in any word. With over 750 posts, you’re bound to find something that’s related to your search term.
Where will they go?
If I were to ask the folks at both closings where they will be putting their phone pics, they’d look at me and say nowhere, or they don’t know, they’re staying in their phone. Without searchable tags. Just data in the glut of files that are being made by the billions on a daily basis by people everywhere.
That’s billion with a B. The difference between a million and a billion, though they sound similar, couldn’t be more different. If you had a million dollars and could live on $100K a year, you could live on your million for 10 years. But if you had a billion dollars, you could live at the same 100K a year rate for 10,000 years. Big difference.
Now take that billion (aka 1000 million) images–data files–placed in phones and clouds and hard drives and stored but not organized, not keyword tagged, just mix them into the mass of photos made on any given day. Do you think they’ll ever be found? Keep in mind there are another billion images coming tomorrow.
Factor in digital demise–failed hard drives, lost phones, forgotten computers that no longer boot up–and now do you think there’s any chance those photos from this weekend at the pub and the golf course will be located in 2051? With a billion a day added every day from today until then? Really?
Remember, these aren’t family photos, they’re businesses closing. They aren’t that important to the folks who were there. They snapped them because that’s what we do in 2021–the phone is always in our hand, we’re always on it, of course we constantly make snapshots.
With no plan for them. They’re not going to get printed. They’re probably not even going to be seen by anyone, maybe not even us.
How often do you go back and look at your phone’s photo albums?
Let’s keep going. What about 2061? Or 50 years from now, 2071? Would you bet money that any of those photos would be able to be located? I know I wouldn’t. There’s no way. That would be a fool’s bet.
It’s a good question to ask yourself. “What are your plans for those pictures?”
Any at all? And if not, why make them? For what? Is it all just a waste of time and cloud space and monthly fees to store them with no plan, nothing to ever come from it.
Is it just an inane thing we find ourselves unable to not do?