I Remember Why I Dream In Black And White

Storage

So I’ve got all these fancy new films…where to put them? And how?

Storage is a real time and money consuming process with all media but especially with old-fashioned prints and negatives now it’s all shifting to digital. I store my photographs in binders, usually Kenro but also Jacobs/Jessops and any folder big enough to store the wider negative pages (remember this – unless you are storing just slides/A4 pages the photo negative pages tend to be wider than nearly all A4 binders)¬† – I inherited quite a few presentation folders with slide pages from my Dad’s old work. Mostly though the issue in the past has been cost, which is why I had a backlog of 10 years of films and prints to store mouldering away in plastic bags!

You can do it cheaper though – the Kenro folders cost you 10 quid if you get them from Jacobs, and the paper 35mm negative pages likewise, but if you shop around on eBay or Process Supplies, Speedgraphic or even Silverprint you can get cheaper (although I’ve found the non-Kenro binders tend to be not as good in the ring department). I tend to go for paper negative pages, partly because they are better long term if not as durable as the clear polyprop or acetate ones (one of the problems of plastic is it keeps the moisture in, then again moisture and paper is a big no-no too but I guess you can ‘rewash’ the negs – but I think the diffuse nature of the paper helps stop fading).

Also it might not be ‘archival’ (whatever than means, really…had archival super-duper media go bad on me and cheap stuff survive in the digital domain, so I’m doubtful of such claims other than ‘acid free’) but I tend to use the normal cheap A4 file pockets you can get at any stationers for 10×8 contact print and larger print storage from when I was regularly printing in the darkroom. It may not be as butch or acid free as the proper 8×10 pockets but they’re hell of a lot cheaper – and in my work I tend to want to preserve the negs and see the prints as handy yet expendable previews.

One avenue I’ve not explored yet is the Multi-Master binder system. Invented for stamp and coin collectors, they avoid the expensive Photography tag, and thus seem cheaper too – there are slide and 120/ 2 x35mm negative pages in that system, and some of the postcard sizes on eBay might fit your prints although they tend to be smaller. In fact there seems to be a suspiciously MM-like postcard folder called ‘Guardian’ which seems cost effective via Prinz. Postcard collectors also don’t want their postcards to fade so tend to be ‘acid free’, but judging by the prices obviously don’t have the ‘made of money’ tag that photographers seem to get lumped into. Be aware that some of the pages are 11 hole and some are 4 or 3 hole, so check which will fit your binder (or if in doubt get the 11 hole which should fit everything). If I wasn’t such an impatient sort I’d order via eBay or online as it’s far cheaper – especially for larger amounts.

And you should always order far more than you think you need…I’m on the 5th or 6th binder since I started and I thought 2 or 3 would do it…it all takes up much more space than you realise!

Also: what can you do about 120 prints? (the 15cm square / 6inch square ones?) Anyone have any suggestions? What I’m planning to do is adapt the Kenro 6 x 4in pages with a little scissor work so I can get those prints in, because the pockets are opposite each other I could slide a larger print across them. Sadly of course normal 7 x 5inch pockets are too small…

As you might have guessed the title of this blog is partly prophetic – ‘Ragged Trouser’ indeed – I don’t like spending money on things in photography that are expensive for the sake of it – you can do it cheaply, be it developing or printing photos at home or ordering your flash triggers and electronics from China or eBay or buying second hand in bundles. Photography is one of those evil sports where the latest thing is pushed at you as a must have, when actually you don’t need a new camera or special shiny gold plated doobry wotsit*. With a little talent and mostly just knowing your camera well you can create great pictures on anything – look at pinhole for that, or all the great Holga/Swan/Lomo/plastic camera obsessives! And certainly you don’t need ‘special’ thermometers, binders or gear when usually it’s just the same stuff rebadged. It might be slightly ‘nicer’ but most often in the case of the plastic storage pockets it is the same stuff!

* It’s why I don’t read the Photographic press cos it’s far too depressing…

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