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End of lifeÖ then

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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · End of lifeÖ then

I am in the final phase of my life (I entered hospice a couple weeks ago). When contemplating what to do with all my gear and as importantly my archives of files, I, like many photographers didnít want expensive equipment to be sold at a garage sale or given to Goodwill. No one in my family had an interest beyond taking prints as momentos of me. A big consideration was I did not expect to have time to sell individual items online. My solution was to see what KEH and MPB would offer. Of course neither wanted everything, and some of the item offers were not where I thought they should be. Again, how to find a solution. I ignored the individual item prices and staid focused on what the offers were for the items in agregate. In the end I accepted the offer from KEH for 3 bodies ( Nikon D810, Z7 II, and Z8) plus several lenses both F mount and Z. Next was what to do with all the other items. With limited time and poor health I rejected the idea of posting online. I estimated the retail used value of the remaining items to be approaching $10K. At this point, economic return was becoming less important. I reached out to an FM member (whom Iíd never met in person) but I knew lived locally and I had been admiring his work in both the wildlife and landscape forums. He being a Sony shooter and well experienced and equipped himself, didnít really have a need for lenses, tripods, camera packs etc. but his brother teaches technology and video courses at a high school in the area. He suggested I donate everything to the school for their use and or passing on to promising students to help them start their own photographic journeys. I thought that was a marvelous idea so with his help I was able to get everything off my plate, help the next generation and ensure that all this valuable equipment didnít just go to waste. Since I donít know if this particular FM member wishes to be identified I will leave him anonymous. However I canít thank him enough for helping me solve a problem and for all his efforts picking the gear up and getting it to where it should be.

The next problem I needed to solve is what happens to all my files when Iím gone, and this is where I think many of us struggle as we contemplate our mortality. Over the years, this topic come up occasionally and the general consensus always seems to be ďdonít worry about it, youíll be dead and it wonít matter.
Unless you have a business that will carry on, I suspect that most of our files just end up being deleted by surviving family members.
I wasnít ready to accept this eventuality and for me my photography is my legacy.
During my last ten years of cancer treatment, Iíve had opportunities to participate in a few clinical trials that fortunately for me have extended my life by about 8 years. Because I had successful outcomes, I came to the attention of the non profit organization that was the major funder of both the research and trials in the work toward finding a cure. We began collaborating on philanthropy and awareness projects and over the years developed a relationship that benefited us both. My sharing my story with millions of men through video projects and tv interviews brought awareness and encouragement for men of middle age to seek testing and where needed treatment. By using my story as part of the organizations fund raising efforts, the donor class has contributed tens of millions of dollars to ongoing research and funding outreach programs particularly for veterans who live in rural areas and donít have access to the precision oncology centers that I have been fortunate enough to take advantage of.
So, one day in a conversation with one of my contacts at the foundation it came up that I thought it was a shame that after my passing all these effoerts on my part would come to an end. It suddenly hit me that there was no reason for that to be the case.

So, here we are at the part of my (sorry about that) long winded story where all photographers can create a legacy and help others along the way. I am donating my archives to them to use in marketing, philanthropy and awareness projects. Along with shipping hard drives with all the files and a current Lightroom catalog, I am transferring copyright ownership to them. They will have full rights to use my images in anyway they see fit and if they desire, offer licensing to other organizations.

These two solutions to what happens to my lifetime of photography can be applied by any photographer anywhere and I strongly encourage anyone who wants to ensure that their work lives on after them to find an organization that fits your interest or needs- we all have at least a few family members who have benefited from various charitable organizations- and establish a relationship with them and donate what you can while you are still able and arrange access to your file for them after you are gone.
The organization I have chosen is the Prostate Cancer foundation based out of Santa Monica, CA. Their website is pcf.org
It is worth every man and every woman who has a man in her life to visit their site and learn about the lifesaving research they are funding. The number of men who are diagnosed each year is a staggering statistic but each year their advances in treatments are reducing the mortality rate by significant amounts.

I apologize for being so long winded, but this is a very important topic that by taking the solutions I have found and adapting them to your own needs you can find the peace of mind that I have knowing I am leaving a legacy that contributes to both the development of the next generation of young photographers but also saving the lives of men like me who unfortunately will run out of time before the cure is found.

If there is a more appropriate forum for this discussion I hope someone smarter than me will move it where it should be.


Mar 12, 2024 at 12:25 PM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · End of lifeÖ then

Chris, firstly, so sorry to hear about your situation...however, it sounds like you are approaching the inevitable with grace and a clear heart, so I must commend you!

I think you touched on many aspects all of us think about, even if we are convincing ourselves that it's a distant worry. You just never know when your time is up, healthy, young, or anywhere in between. The very worst thing for any photographer's legacy would be for files to be locked away on a harddrive, perhaps on a computer no one has the password to. Even having them archived on a digital service such as a website/flickr/et al isn't foolproof once the next bill comes due.

As someone that has become the family archivist (and largely the only person in a large family that actually cares about the family photos), I can't stress enough how valuable physical copies are. It's easy to fill a small shoebox with the very best photos from a lifetime of shooting, one that can be passed down by a simple transfer. Of course, this comes with all the physical risks of water/fire/theft/misplacing, but it's always surprising how these keepsakes tend to survive the years.

Personally, I'm planning on printing my best works into hardcopy books so that there are no loose pictures to keep track of, but of course this is a time consuming and pricey endeavour.

I think you made the right decision to liquidate your assets to a wholesale buyer rather than drag out many ebay/FM type sales. I also commend your generosity with donating your personal archives, what a cool idea.

Thanks for sharing your findings and conclusions for such a tough topic. I wish you peace and hope you enjoy every drop of your remaining time with those that you love.

Mar 12, 2024 at 12:44 PM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · End of lifeÖ then


sorry to hear of your eol condition. i'm unsure of the right words to say, but many people will be the grateful recipients of your action and arrangement. but the most important thing is that you're happy of the legacy you'll leave behind.

on the lighter side, ask the big guy above to give me 6 numbers and i would be extremely grateful.

Mar 12, 2024 at 12:45 PM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · End of lifeÖ then

Chris - I'm kinda lost for words, while it's obviously a very sad situation your post is remarkable in clarity of thought and that you found a way to use your legacy is amazing. Peace!

It's a great topic and while I have not given this the thought I probably should have, I have done a few things.

For stuff I take of travel & whatnot -
- I assume these will be lost and of no interest. Great you found a use!

For wider family -
- Like Scott, I am the family collector of slides and negs (and some 8mm) from family past - inlaws and outlaws. No one else - at least in the generations so far - has the interest unless it's posted on facebook or a phone app
- I've collected the physical media and scanned everything. I've copied JPG files to siblings laptops and given them a thumb drive that includes DNG of the scans. I doubt they will be used but I had to do that and distribute them - maybe someone somewhere will find it useful.
- I've tried to get the background of a lot of old slides and stuffed that into metadata (dates, names, stories or whatever I can get).
- I setup my parents laptop & digital photo frame to show random pictures off dropbox. It does create conversations when I chat to them which is nice.

For immediate family (mostly digital but also stacks of negs) -
- I have a nice leather book for each kid and I print 8x12 images of individual/siblings best pictures every couple of years and stick them in each book like it's 1923.
- I assume they will only care about pics of immediate family.

Sorry for long answer - was thinking thru while typing

Mar 12, 2024 at 01:53 PM

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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · End of lifeÖ then

Thank you all for the kind thoughts. My intent with my post was not to generate sympathy over my situation, itís a difficult subject that none of us can ever find the right words to express empathy for last phases of life. My only goal was to share what I found as a solution to an issue we all face sooner or later and to hopefully encourage a discussion about the various ways we are approaching our legacies.
Iíve had ten years since diagnosis to prepare and come to terms with how I want to handle my demise and what I hope to leave behind.
I never really shared my work with family as I didnít think anyone would be interested in my prints. However, once I invited siblings and extended family to take any they may want as momentos I was somewhat stunned at everyoneís response so now Iíve exported high res jpegs so each branch of the family will have access to any files they may want to print in the future.

I like that Scott and a few others have taken on the task of scanning and printing family heirloom photos so future generations will enjoy the histories of their lineage.
I certainly donít have the resources to do photo books but that is something I would have liked to do for the generations of my family who I will never know.
As a family project we had my father write his life story which we illustrated with any family photos we had of him and his life. Those have become a treasured heirloom in my family and will be passed on through the generations.

As others join the conversation let me say I donít expect platitudes or expressions of sympathy so itís perfectly fine to leave that issue aside and discuss the things we all can benefit from. With that, Iím willing to answer any questions or discuss what Iíve learned regarding treating an illness that Iím sure many members are having to deal with in their own lives. Either in the public discussion or via PM is fine with me.

Mar 12, 2024 at 05:32 PM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · End of lifeÖ then

Hi Chris,

I think that the decision how to proceed in such circumstances is highly context dependent. Growing up my parents were never big on family history. Neither of them was particularly close with their siblings and they passed this (in hindsight) unfortunate trait to me and my brother. I in turn passed it to my own daughter. Unfortunately we sometimes don't realize these things until it is too late to do anything about them.

Bottom line is that when my time comes I will not worry about passing anything down. Photography for me is a very personal activity, done for my own enjoyment and rarely shared with others. I don't post here, on IG, or share my images with almost anyone. I do have a website that is there for my personal enjoyment. When the time comes I would be content to let everything disappear. If my wife chooses to do otherwise that is entirely her decision.

With that said, I very much like your decision to donate to an organization you care about. Particularly if your images have commerical value (mine don't) that is an excellent way to have them live on and do good deeds.

Giving away something of meaningful value is much harder work than people realize, and you have put great thought into that. Thank you for sharing with us.

Mar 12, 2024 at 10:47 PM
Jim Dockery
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · End of lifeÖ then

Chris, I don't mind being identified and certainly appreciate your donation to my brother and I. Here is a picture of my brother in his fancy classroom where he teaches web design and video production.

Chris gave me the gear with no strings attached so I've kept a few things that will complement my own gear. I'm especially grateful for a brand new Canon Pixma Pro-100 printer. I sold my Epson 7900 a year ago after I realized I didn't print enough to keep the heads clear, but have missed having it to make the occasional print for friends.

I've found myself in a somewhat similar situation looking to get rid of old gear that isn't worth the trouble to sell on Craigs List, but still works fine. As a retired teacher I have friends (and my brother) who work with mid-high school students who are interested in photography/video but don't have the $$ to buy their own gear. I've passed on a full kit of tripod, Sony Mirrorless camera, and set of lenses to a motivated young man who was very grateful for his first real kit. I was the recipient of a similar gift of technical climbing equipment when I was in college and couldn't afford to buy all the stuff I needed to do the big wall (El Capitan etc.) climbing I was getting into. I've been eternally grateful to the guy who passed on his gear to me and we are still good friends.

Talking with Chris has made me think about what to do with my files when the time comes and I'm going to look into a similar donation to a charity.

Thanks to Fred for creating this wonderful site that enabled Chris and I to meet up, collaborate on this exchange, and become friends.

Mar 13, 2024 at 10:50 AM

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