Kevin, 33.

During my senior year of high school, I came across Kevin Carter’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of a starving Sudanese girl shadowed by a vulture. The visual impact that this photo had on me was powerful, to say the least. This photo largely influenced my decision to pursue photojournalism in college.

But this is a bittersweet subject, because Kevin Carter, at the age of 33, committed suicide shortly after taking this photo. As far as journalism goes, no one has been able to confirm—for a fact—that Carter took his life because of the consequences surrounding this Pulitzer Prize-winning photo. My personal theory is that he took his own life because he was so so burdened and so so overwhelmed by all of the suffering he had seen throughout his journalistic career.

You see, Carter, a white man, lived in South Africa in the 80’s. And he not only lived there during those times, he was actively involved in documenting anti-apartheid protests, which led to his arrest several times.He was part of “The Bang Bang Club,” a group of four white friends who strove to use their photography to show the world the disturbing reality of apartheid.2 He also spent time in southern Sudan photographing the civil war and famine that he knew needed to be exposed to the world.2 And that’s where he took his famous photo of the girl and the vulture.

In addition to all this mind-numbing suffering that Carter documented, in 1993 he witnessed the death of Ken Oosterbroek, one of his “Bang Bang” friends, when he was shot while photographing a gun battle in Thokoza, Johanessburg.1

So my guess is that there is much, much more behind his suicide than we can guess. And while his death is—in many ways—a mystery, and while it is important to understand the weight of his personal suffering and suicide, it is also important to recognize his irreplaceable contribution to society and the tenacity that drove him to expose the suffering and evil of his day. But yeah, let’s be honest here… I can’t help but feel more of the “bitter” part rather than the “sweet” part.

Today would have been his birthday.

Notes:

     1. Keller, Bill. “Kevin Carter, a Pulitzer Winner For Sudan Photo, Is Dead.” New York Times, 29 July 1994. Web. 13 Sept. 2013.

     2. Kevin Carter Film: Synopsis.” Director: Dan Krauss. Web. 13 Sept. 2013.

9/11

13_09_11IMG_6277One year, on September 11th, when I was living in America, an American expressed how terribly sad he felt for the victims of 9/11—those who died as well as family and friends who had been left behind. He then went on to express the tragedy and sting of terrorism in general… that along with Americans who suffered on and have continued to suffer from that terrible day, there are tens of thousands of people around the world who can relate to that terror, who live with the fear of death and the turmoil of loss. Can I just say, I have an extremely high respect for this American… for the maturity that he has shown, for the time he has taken to consider the pain and suffering of terrorized humanity.

The photojournalist in me goes out to those people whose pain and suffering even the powerful tool of photography has failed to capture and to those people whose stories were not told with the greatest level of respect, dignity, and depth. And the human in me goes out to those people whose pain and suffering are an everyday burden, whose grief is powerful and often impenetrable.

I’m organizing and managing my photos.

[Many of my thoughts start on paper.]

I’m currently in the process of organizing my photos from the last several years in a way that uses the space on my hard drives most effectively. I don’t have money to buy a new external hard drive any time I want to and I don’t need to keep all of the RAW file photos that I’ve ever taken. This task requires a lot of prioritizing as well as well-considered deleting. As you read through this post, keep in mind that I just graduated from university with an emphasis in visual journalism (therefore I still have a lot of photos to sort through from classes I’ve taken) and that I am currently not working in the field of photography (if I were I would invest in a lot more disc space). My point is that there are a lot of factors to be considered before figuring out your best way of managing photos. So if you’re reading this post to get step-by-step guidance, I would advise you to think carefully about your own circumstances and factors before jumping in.

Background: My computer has a 500GB internal hard drive. Other than that space, I have one 500GB external hard drive and one 250GB external hard drive. I use the 250GB one to back up non-photo files (like old schoolwork) and use the 500GB one to store my photo files. 1TB hard drives are extremely affordable now,  but at this point I don’t feel comfortable enough to put 1TB-worth of files all in one place just in case something happens to it; I would rather pay a little more for two 500GB drives.

That said, the following are steps I’m taking to organize my photos:

1. Organize by date.
On my 500GB drive, the first layer of folders you see are mostly years: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, etc. The subfolders within these folders are labeled by year, month, and then date, so that the proper order (by date) is kept all the time. If you put the date before the month, you will end up with the 25th of January, February, March, etc grouped together. And in case you’re wondering, I put the year (abbreviated “13” for “2013”) so that I can handle my own errors well. For example, if I accidentally put a folder called “13_08_22Sherlock-Night” into the “2012 Photos”  folder, I can quickly look through the folder and spot which one has the wrong year at the front. So, yes, my folders end up looking something like this:

13_01_24High-School-Reunion

I actually have been using spaces between the words up until now, but a photo prof last semester mentioned that en dashes or underscores are better for the sake of the possibility of ever uploading them online. If I remember correctly, spaces in photo file names/folders can interfere with html language.

After all this, you can then choose to mass label each image file. If you own Adobe Bridge or Lightroom, there are easy methods to mass label images.,They can come out looking something like:

13_01_24High-School-Reunion_0001
13_01_24High-School-Reunion_0002

13_01_24High-School-Reunion_0228

I, personally, will probably never bother to do this, but this level of organization may help you find photos even more easily than if they were labeled “IMG_0101” or something.

2. Use disc space efficiently for gigantic RAW files by prioritizing and then deleting.

There are a lot of photos that I’ve taken on outings with family or with friends that I’ve shot RAW or shot with settings that allow me to shoot as both JPEG and RAW at the same time. A lot of those will never make it into the portfolio that I’ll post on my site here or show potential employers. I do edit a lot of them and post them on Facebook, however. So generally what I will be doing is keeping all the photos I’ve edited (and exported as JPEGs) and also the RAWs of those photos if they exist (sometimes I’ve resorted to just shooting in JPEG when casual shooting). And then I will delete the rest of the photos.

3. Keep a double copy of all portfolio photos (edited and RAW).

By the end of this madness, I’ll have a copy of my portfiolio photos in both my internal hard drive (this makes it easily accessible if I want to upload any of them online at random times) and on my 500GB external drive.

4. Don’t procrastinate organizing photos after shooting.

My senior year in university was extremely busy. So in many ways I had no choice but to push this photo organization task to the bottom of my list of priorities. *Sidenote: I am notorious among my friends for not posting photos on Facebook until months later. For example, this summer I finally posted photos I took back in October. 😉* However, as much as possible, I will try to maintain photo organization. It can really turn into a nightmare later especially if you don’t transfer four 8GB-memory-cards-worth of photos onto a hard drive until you’re about to go shoot an event… *YUP, this happens.*

That’s all for now! I will be updating this post as I figure out newer, better ways of organizing. Please feel free to offer other tips and suggestions in the comments section!