This image of Ben was taken a number of years ago. If memory serves correctly it was done with a Kodak SLR/n camera and a Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 (not that it matters) on a Saturday morning at a swim meet. Where images of "the boy" and his mom are involved I have really followed "best practices" in terms of backing everything up in multiple places and across multiple media. These are the images I am loathe to lose.
On the other hand....
We instituted a new policy about three years ago for client work. We put the onus on them to keep their commissioned images safe, sound and at hand. If they paid for a three year license we state that we'll use the best methods at our disposal to retain the images but don't guarantee the survival of digital work past the license expiration date.
A number of years ago I started culling through the enormous, three drawer filing cabinets that fill up a wall in the studio. I started dragging out old headshot of business people from businesses that had gone belly up. I looked through lots of envelopes and carefully inspected lots of negative pages to make sure I wasn't tossing anything that I might construe as important. It seems silly to keep around a full sheet of negatives from a quick, cattle call portrait session, done at a company that, in all likelihood laid off the subject of those negatives years or decades earlier.
We have an obligation to hold onto the work during its period of contracted relevance but in the days of digital, if a client needs long term storage they are much better equipped to run an image library than I will ever be.
The newest purge is CD-roms from 1995 to 2005. Unless there is a compelling reason to keep the work (historic imagery?) I'm grinding it up and consigning it to the trash heap of history.
We have moved from "keepers of the archive" to "makers of contemporarily relevant content. In this day and age that's truly what we get paid for.
Sloughing off the day to day work of an earlier time is emotionally freeing and exciting. I feel as though I am no longer anchored to the past in quite the same way. Every time you can divest yourself of responsibility for something that doesn't pay for itself I think you win. Just a thought.