Archive surfing

The photo that became the first technique example on my first website in April 2000. ©Neil Turner/TSL

Like so many of my colleagues the Covid 19 Pandemic has robbed me of almost all of my work. 2020 was looking to be a great year with lots of interesting projects but from the moment that the first lockdowns started to swing into action across the world my assignments and projects started to get postponed and cancelled at a very rapid rate. As I sit here I have nothing booked for the rest of the year.

The other thing that I have in common with a huge percentage of those colleagues is that I have been giving some more attention to my archives. I had several months off in 2017 and so my digital images are already well protected and catalogued so I have been looking at transparencies, negatives and back ups of my old digital life.

As I’ve said many times on this blog (and its predecessor the “pre-blog“) I started to show my work on a very basic website in 1999 and from February 2000 I started to post work that I had done every month. Well that was just over twenty years ago so I thought that it would be fun to bring out April 2000’s gallery. The design of the site back then evolved quite regularly and so I don’t actually have the earliest incarnation of the HTML page but I do have a slightly later version that I have screen grabbed here:

The original page from April 2000

There are two reasons that I chose April 2000. The first is that I posted the updated pages on the 28th day of the month and that was twenty years ago yesterday and the second is that amongst this gallery was the image that started me down the very long and winding road road of posting explanations of how I’d achieved certain images. Quite why the person who asked how it was done chose that image even from this selection is a mystery but that’s how it all began back twenty years ago this week and I’m very grateful to him for his question.

There was a second technique example on this page – a far more interesting picture in my opinion and probably the one picture that I have been asked to talk most often about in the twenty years since.

You can still find every single technique post that I uploaded between April 2000 and June 2008 on my website and, from the logs that I still look at occasionally, people still refer to them on a daily basis. I have just had a look and there has been at least one visit to at least one of those examples every day for the last four months and only three days have been blank in the last two years! I find that amazing given the number of superb tutorials that exist on YouTube and on Vimeo along with the much more up-to-date and sophisticated imagery that is explained in detail on more modern website but they still get enough visits to persuade me to leave them on line for a while longer.

Anyway, back to the archive surfing; there have been lots of odd Facebook challenges doing the rounds to lift the boredom and one of them made me do a bit of digging to find pictures of myself at different points in my life. The challenge was “twenty years old doing your job” but at that age I was at Medway College of Design studying Editorial and Advertising Photography and that actually produced a nice black and white frame of a very young man with a camera that you can see below but there were other pictures too including one of me aged 28 or 29 working editing transparencies on a light box and another also in the old Insight offices in Hoxton lounging on an office chair having just come back from a London assignment taken in 1989 or 1990.

Happy days but I am never going to miss the smell of photographic chemicals. Lots of other ‘old-timers’ get all misty-eyed when they think about the gallons of developer, stop baths, fixer and other assorted potions that we mixed up, used and disposed of over the years but I can’t bring myself to get romantic about the old days – no matter how much fun we had in darkrooms.

I’m pretty sure that lots more archive surfing will be going on over the next few months.

Late Autumn 1984. Photo ©Paul Goodfellow. For the camera geeks and anoraks out there that’s one of my Olympus OM1 bodies with a Winder2 drive and a Zuiko 200mm f4 lens in my hands and a Domke f2 bag sitting next to me. In those days I carried at least two OM1 bodies and I had a pretty large selection of Olympus, Tamron and Vivitar lenses.


  1. Hi Neil,
    I think may of us have been tidying up our archives, I’ve kept my digital camera files in good order although I’ve spent may laborious hours backing up CD/DVD to a hard disk and of course a mirror copy (sigh).

    Like you I’m now looking at old negs and trannies!

    You may have done a post on this topic before but could I ask how you manage your digital archive?

    Stay safe, cheers Neil


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