This being the inaugural post of Sara Ferguson Photographic, I thought I’d shed some light into what it is that I “do”. More often than not when I tell people that I am a photo archivist, my statement is met with a quizzical head tilt, “So...what does that mean exactly?”
I organize photographic collections. I order, I scan, I edit, I research, I tag, I store. I sift through photographs to filter out the valuable from the extraneous, interpret the visual information provided within images, and form an arrangement that gives the collection, as a whole, meaning for its users. The end goal often depends on the project and the client, but generally speaking, I make it so you can find your pictures and use them. To use the puzzle analogy, I take many pieces and put them together to form one singular picture that allows for connections between parts to be made, and for important information to be highlighted and accessible. This profession makes use of my human instinct to make order, recognize patterns, and define classifications. My job is to complete that puzzle.
The explanations for collecting run from the psychological: “Collecting is a means by which one relieves a basic sense of incompletion brought on by unfulfilled childhood needs...It functions as a form of wish fulfillment, which eases deep-rooted uncertainties and existential dread.” (English professor, award-winning author and avid collector Kim A. Herzinger), to the simplistic. In his article, “Collecting Collections,” Kurt Kuersteiner says, “I believe the main reason people collect something is a basic interest in the topic.” I suppose my reasons run somewhere in the middle of the two.
In recognition of this obsession for order and turning chaos into elegance, the business logo of Sara Ferguson Photographic pays homage to Anna Atkins. Atkins was a British botanist, and scientific illustrator turned photographer whose ambitious project to record all known species of algae in the British Isles resulted in the book Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions. Atkins collected, printed and published over 400 unique cyanotype photographs made of algae over a ten year period. The first installment of the book, published in 1843, is considered the first published book illustrated with photographic images.