The research has been prompted by a number of issues:
- Most of the work and archives of a generation of photographers who significantly developed and extended the practice of contemporary photography in Britain is held, in effect, in private ‘archives’ i.e. in the photographers’ own homes and studios, with little of the material publicly available for research or display;
- Photographers’ archives contain valuable contextual material – negatives, contact sheets, work prints, correspondence, articles and reviews - which provide an important insight into the creative working processes of photographers – important for students, researchers, practitioners, historians now and in the future; this work is not adequately represented in public collections. Some public institutions have acquired important archives, but the approach is currently ad-hoc;
- Many photographers themselves are at a loss to know how to deal with their archives and there is little information or guidance available to help them;
- There is a widely held assumption that digitisation will provide all the answers to the storage and preservation of a photographic practice; however, its durability is untested. There are already many people, not just within the artist community, who are sceptical about the longevity of digital storage;
- Whilst a small number of national institutions are coordinating a strategy for collecting prints for their collections, no national strategy exists for collecting and making available photographers’ archives;
- There currently exists no public forum in which to debate and share information on this subject in order to develop a strategic approach.