Packing up, letting go

Moving sucks. That’s a no-brainer.

Moving 11 years of stuff — some of which I never even unpacked — sucks even more.

I think I've always been the only African American photographer on a photo staff. As such, I took pride in covering that community, to give them a much needed voice.

I think I’ve always been the only African American photographer on a photo staff. As such, I took pride in covering that community, to give them a much needed voice.

Some of the stuff was pretty easy to let go of, like a closet full of clothes I haven’t worn since I moved to Columbia. Other stuff is much tougher. A good friend here told me to purge my old things from my life.

“Remember with affection the part of you that used and even loved those things and those times in your life, and release her, too. I’ll be the first to agree it’s not easy. But you are on to new things, and you need to cut out the dead wood to make room in your life for fresh growth.”

But there’s something I have that I’m not sure I can part with, but not sure if I should keep, and I need your suggestions:

What do you do with more than 14 years of newspaper clips? (I’ve been in journalism since I was 19, so this includes my college years with the Drake Times-Delphic and about 10 years at The Register and Tribune and Gannett Rochester Newspapers.)

This is one of my favorite "found moments" — three guys trying to start a car. I just love the symmetry in it and my ability to get far away to allow them to forget I was there and have natural actions.

This is one of my favorite “found moments” — three guys trying to start a car. I just love the symmetry in it and my ability to get far away to allow them to forget I was there and have natural actions.

As a photojournalist working for someone else, all of my negatives are the property of the company, so the printed work is all the evidence I have of my work. Most of the work is the actual full-page (broadsheet) clips don’t fit in a traditional moving box so I’d have to construct something. I tried to do that and discovered, lo and behold — 20 years of newspaper clips are really freakin’ heavy!

Don’t ask me to be logical about all of this, but here’s the logic behind why I still have this stuff.

How can I throw away the last issue of the Des Moines Tribune?

How can I throw away the last issue of the Des Moines Tribune?

In most cases, this is the only evidence of my work. The Des Moines Register moved to a new building and threw out hundreds and hundreds of original photographs and even negatives. I’m sure some of my work was in there. The Democrat and Chronicle newspaper in Rochester is going to move, too, and I suspect they will do the same sort of purging. So if I don’t keep these clips, what evidence is there of the work that I did?

I know this sounds sort of egotistical, but I want there to be some evidence of my work. I’ve won some NPPA clip contests but nothing major. I think the real value of my work is in documenting everyday people doing everyday things. But realistically, is anyone ever going to be interested in this work? Should I just throw it on the fire along with the hundred or so 2x4s and other scrap wood I can’t take with me?

I’d appreciate your thoughts on whether to keep them or let them go.

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2 responses to “Packing up, letting go

  1. I say keep them and make a photobook of the best/most memorable.

  2. I agree with kerry, keep the memorable ones. ive also started scanning newspaper articles that ive appeared in and saved them on a flash drive too.

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