Ed Kashi: Looking Back To Look Forward

The carcasses of freshly killed goats are roasted by the flames of burning tires at Trans Amadi. Photo by Ed Kashi

Ed Kashi is also a filmmaker and educator dedicated to documenting the social and political issues that define our times. A sensitive eye and an intimate relationship to his subjects are the signatures of his work. Kashi’s complex imagery has been recognized for its compelling rendering of the human condition. In 2002, Kashi and his wife, writer / filmmaker Julie Winokur, founded Talking Eyes Media. The non-profit company has produced numerous short films and multimedia pieces that explore significant social issues.

He write this Article about using  photo archives …

As a photographer, my archive houses many of my memories and the personal experiences attached to the creation of those photographs. Over time I have come to appreciate the value of my archive as something more than a simple repository of those images and associated memories. This growing, thriving and continually evolving organism has become a living library with untold value. By value I’m not speaking about the monetary potential, which is important and vital, but to the greater meanings, connections and possibilities of interpretation that it offers. In a sense, my library of images, made over a nearly 30-year period, offers an opportunity for further explorations into my work and who I am.

Over time, as one accumulates many thousands and even hundreds of thousands of photographs, your archive becomes more than the individual images and stories, instead forming a whole larger than its parts. In looking over your work, the images start to have meaning and connections amongst themselves that you can’t necessarily recognize in the moment, or when you’re editing for purpose. Patterns of style, theme, issue, geography, mood, design, etc. begin to emerge and with them great potential for discovery. Images are not just historical record, but also a record of your growth as a photographer and as a human being. It’s a rewarding practice whether you’ve been photographing for a few years or a few decades, to use your archive as a tool to make these new discoveries. And even though this journey through your photographic past and present might prove disappointing at times, revealing weaknesses or blind spots, you can still gain valuable and rich insights. It’s always hardest to examine yourself closely but when you allow for vulnerability, many powerful and rewarding epiphanies are sure to come.

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2 thoughts on “Ed Kashi: Looking Back To Look Forward

  1. thanks Ed! i needed that. I have 18,000 images on my laptop, and have treated my photo work as a secondary to my artwork, but recently i have been reviewing and see the connections i did not see earlier, so i will be more resptful and more detailed. thanks or the tips.

  2. I basically started with a binder of negs a lupe, a light box and a film scanner (nikon 8000) and proceeded from there.

    I organize my digital files similarly and so accessing them is just as easy. Plus I use Extensis Portfolio so i can call up shoots that are archived on discs or drives not active on my system.

    I am taking this process in stages. I found that I work better if I have a specific goal and creating a body of work to present as an exhibit is a good goal for me. The first installment took me about a year to complete. I am hoping to find time in mid to late 2011 to start on the next stage.

    I’d love to talk more about this. Feel free to contact me if you are interested.

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