The chaos of film

I shot digital for a few years. I don’t hate on digital images, I just don’t care for the process. But I do miss one single aspect of the digital workflow: the organization.

I’d come home, plug the CF card in to a reader, and the computer would zip the files off of it and arrange them neatly on the hard drive. All in all, an easy, mindless process.

Film isn’t that easy.

As I write this, the desk is covered with film holders for the scanner, and sleeves for three different sizes of negatives. The pile is substantial. More live in binders on the shelves, and on the floor. They’ve slipped from organization in to utter chaos and it seems I can’t corral them all and get everything back under control.

I’ll admit, I’m not the most organized person as a rule. I like to tell people I thrive on chaos and madness and to a degree, that’s true. But sometimes, I do wish I could find a particular negative without devoting a lot of time and profanity to the search.

I’ve been looking for a system to file negatives for some years now, and I can’t seem to find or create a workable one. I’ve thought of getting a file cabinet and organizing that way, but we live in a tiny loft apartment, and I really don’t have the space for any such thing. It doesn’t keep me from thinking about how it could be done and walking about with an eye to finding a space, I just haven’t had any luck so far.

shoot-377This is one of the things I like most about film biting me. Unlike those digital files slipped automagically in to virtual folders on hard drives, film is a real thing. You can hold an image in your hand, and look at it on a light table. It’s not a collection of ones and zeros that require a machine to interpret it and show it to you, it’s a real, tangible thing you can just look at and take in. And as a real, tangible thing, it takes up real, tangible space and there’s the rub.

Hoist by my own petard, as that English guy would say.

So now what? What am I going to do about it? I’m still looking in to that. In the mean time, I need to corral all these negative sleeves and get them under control. I still haven’t looked at all the pictures from the tour we just finished. They’re developed, and nicely cut and sleeved, but then they were consumed by the gaping maw of disorganization that is my desk and vanished.

I’ll spend some time this weekend sorting that chaos out. I’m going to need an old priest and a young priest.

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