Month: October 2022

David Wells mines his archive

In this Zoom presentation I discuss how I spent time mining my photographic archive. This presentation was partly a byproduct of my being home-bound at the start of the pandemic. The next factor adding to the mix was the changing market for publication images. Many of the photo agencies that I once worked with have been going out of business over the last decade and returning my old film images along the way.

By way of background, I started my life in photography in 1972 using film and I “went digital” in 2008, so when the images from that first part of my career started coming back to me, I initially shoved them in closets and ignored them. But late in 2019, before the pandemic, some things happened that made me think it was time to open up my film archive, to find the gems and get rid of the rest. Images from that exact process are at the core of this presentation.

About the same time as my work was being returned to me, I had an internal reckoning of sorts, where I was prompted to come to terms with what’s likely to be the ultimate disposition of my photographic archive and my life‘s work. The mixing of all of these events together prompted me to do the massive editing and housecleaning that I had long avoided. Among the many things I found were photos of me when I was much younger with less gray hair, images that I made throughout the world. I guess we would call these selfies now, but back then somebody else had to take the actual picture. I found some great old family photos, especially of my daughter. I reconnected with some very old newspaper work that I did when I first started. I waded through a lot of junk. A lot of junk.

In the talk you will learn about my early career, see some surprising images, and probably laugh a bit. I also hope the talk prompts you to think about the future, about your photographic archives, about the importance of our images as our legacies (and maybe a few other questions.)