Curating your history

So often, when we meet a potential client for the first time, we hear the words, ‘We’d love to do a book, but I don’t know that we’ve got enough content to fill one.’ We’ve never actually found this to be true – we usually end up having to expand the scope of our projects to accommodate all the stories we uncover – but, just in case, here are some tips for getting all your history ducks in a row.

First of all, take photos! And not just happy snaps on your phone! Take photos of staff functions, awards nights, new digs, big wins… around the Bounce office, we always snap a photo of someone taking the first book out of the top box whenever a new project gets delivered. And there’s more than one pic of Lola, the black lab who ‘guards’ our offices wearing a festive Christmas collar.

Secondly, file your photos. One thing that’s been proven to us time and again is that the easier it is to take a picture, the less that picture is treasured. Almost every organisation we’ve ever worked with has amazing photos from the early days – those old, black and white professional shots from the days when nobody owned a camera of their own and photos were a big deal. Those photos have been labeled, carefully stored, and treated with kid gloves for eighty-plus years. And they’re still around.

But when we open the archive boxes from the seventies, what do we find? A plethora of photos, thanks to the good old Kodak Instamatic… Most of the time, the photos are still in their Kodak wallet, but they're not particularly useful, because they’re unlabelled, and the details – Who’s in the photos? Where are they? Why did we bother to take a photo? – have been lost in the mists of time.

If a book is something you’re thinking about doing in a year, two years, ten years, then start now. Give someone in your office the responsibility of being ‘staff photographer’. And once the moment has been captured, download it, give it a name that means something, give it a date, and store it somewhere safe. Future generations will thank you.

#photography #corporatehistory #documenting

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