My best friend, Tom, had a house fire in the 90s that destroyed all of his photos and negatives (during his most prolific period as an enthusiastic young hobbyist). As a result, he developed an entirely different way of approaching archivism and we all could learn something from it.
Recently, I was talking about my own archives from that same period and how I was going to deal with scanning the thousands of negatives I had amassed. I wanted to create a digital archive I could easily back up to avoid the same destruction Tom faced.
Tom advised me to revisit the places in those negatives and produce something better than I had produced back then. Then, throw away the old negatives. He gave me a few hundred new projects in under 5 seconds and I couldn’t wait to get started.
Life is fleeting and you can’t take your archives with you. Chances are, no one will tend to them even a few years after you’re gone. The real value in photography is an appreciation of the present.