What will you leave behind when you die ? 4

A few days ago, I shared the June slideshow on my YouTube channel. During a discussion about all the photos being in color, John Harper told me sad news about a photographer we both knew. Lindsay Zee, an Australian photographer that I had met in 2016 on the 500px platform had left us. We had lost sight of each other since I cut all ties with social networks. We managed to chat a bit when I was on Facebook, but I haven’t heard from him since. I can’t say that he was a friend in the sense that I had never met him and that our exchanges were almost always limited to comments on our respective photos, but he was someone I appreciated and it seems to me that we could have been friends if we had left this digital sphere. It’s always weird to have this kind of news. I didn’t know him, but hearing that someone is gone for good is always sad …

I went to 500px to see if his page still existed. You can take a look at it here. I knew he had completely changed his style of photos. When we met, he was trying his hand at Street Photography, but he soon realized that it was complicated and that it didn’t suit him. And yet he loved looking at the photos of other street photographers ! He had started with a lot of talent making photos with models. I don’t know what these kind of photos are called, but I have to say he was really good. I teased him a bit at the time by telling him that it was just a pretext to photograph cute girls in lascivious poses. Even when he was doing Street Photography, his eye was hopelessly drawn to pretty girls on the streets. Well, let me reassure you right away, this is almost always the case for street photographers, including me … But some more than others. Lindsay was one of those !

This disappearance saddens me and makes me wonder what we leave behind when we die. Of course there is the material things which are managed by the notaries. More personal things will be picked up by relatives. Friends and relatives will still have memories from you. But the rest ? I am of course talking about intellectual property, about his vision of things. I will take a concrete exemple. Me. What will become of all my work in the street ? Today, I pay a Cloud service to store my photos, a host for my website. If I were to die, these two elements will disappear in the very short term unless I make arrangements in a will to ask my legatees to continue paying for the hosting services of my website. But who does that ? Only the photos that pile up on my hard drives will remain. That is to say 0 and 1 … I am neither Garry Winogrand, nor Vivian Maier. No one is going to rummage through my archives thinking they will find something interesting. After a while my hard drives will die and all my work will be lost.

All the links of my photos on Google will result in dead links because my site will no longer exist. In the end, only my slideshows shared on my YouTube channel will remain. It could have been the same if I had stayed on Facebook, Instagram or 500px. It’s pretty funny in a way, because I keep blaming social networks and in the end, if I were to disappear, they would be the ones who would leave a trace of my work, of my name. In 1000 years, if YouTube still exists, my photos will still be visible in slideshows. I have to say that’s not how I imagined it.

But let’s be honest, globally I am nothing. Well, I’m just one of those photographers who tirelessly walks the same streets and takes pictures. But that doesn’t mean my work is trivial. For me it makes sense. It is at my level that I place myself and that is why I ask myself this question of what will remain when I leave. It makes all the more interesting the process that some people have taken when publishing a book. Even on fairly limited editions, these are all small bottles thrown into the sea. Your work, your photos will survive you because these books will always exist and several generations could see your photos. I don’t think photographers think of that when they make a book. The purpose is rather to share and see his photos lying on paper instead of looking at them on a computer screen. But this dimension of memory is very present in a book. I would much rather tell myself that people will be able to discover my work in a book than in a vulgar slideshow on YouTube!

You may not know it, I am a procrastinator. To the chagrin of Gwen my wife besides … There are so many things to do that I prefer to tell you right away that a photo book is far from seeing the light of day. I have time … That’s what I tell myself and there is no rush. Why waste time working on it when I could instead go to Saint-Denis to take pictures ? I continue to stack the photos on the hard drives. But a day will come when I will join Lindsay on the other side and finally meet the person I didn’t have time to meet here. R.I.P Lindsay, it made me happy to see these old photos of 2016 on 500px. I remember each of them. It’s been almost a month since I had written anything on my Blog. It’s just that I had nothing to say … Promise Lindsay, I won’t wait for another bad news before I write again !

All the photos were made with the Fujifilm XF10.

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4 thoughts on “What will you leave behind when you die ?

  • Vasco Trancoso

    Making Photography.
    Every human being is a galaxy that carries within him extraordinary worlds. Sublime experiences we went through, beautiful thoughts and sensations / emotions, interior paradises that imagination invented. Moments of extreme clarity that can only be learned after a lifetime. Deep within us there is a place, under permanent construction, where miracles are stored. The memories and inherent knowledge are a parallel and precious reality that can disappear – because forgotten – definitely when we die. And everything that is forgotten is as if it never existed.
    Therefore, making Photography is also an attempt for some of our intrinsic universes to continue to exist. Above all, things that only we see and, at the same time, we know that they do not belong to the reality that can be perceptiple by everyone. We are what we do and our inner voice can thus be memorized within the photographs. Continue to exist.

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      A very poetic vision of our photographic journey. Thanks for these wise words Vasco. I guess that the way is to keep on moving, keep on going forward. If things are to be lost or anything else, be it. It’s like when you miss something in the streets. Have no regrets. Other opportunities will come. Even if my work is doomed to disappear one day, I have to keep going forward. I’m gratefull enough that some people are able to see my work today. The quest for eternity is pointless

  • John Harper

    Someone we know passing away always reminds us of our own mortality. Poignant that Lin Zee was a photographer and it hits home that some kind of legacy to our families in the form of a photographic book is often on the agenda. Of course we put it off, procrastinate, no time for the work involved in producing a book. Yet, we should do it now, because we really never know when our time is up, it could be untimely. Note To Self: Do it now!

    Lin Zee was a very technical photographer, he knew the workings of the camera inside out. If you had a technical question he would be the one to ask. I never met him in person, but I’m fairly sure he was a very nice chap. He gave time to answer people, I witnessed this on 500px many times. He also enjoyed a joke. He once told me “If it’s crap, convert to black and white”! My thoughts are with his family. RIP Lindsay.

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      Life goes on, people come and go. Some passed away … I remembered seing some photos of Lin and his family on Facebook. I don’t even know if he was old or not. I produce every year un photobook of family photography. Most of the time, I struggle to add some pics of me because there are almost none. I’m the guy with the camera and the only one sharing the photos with others. Some relatives take pics of me but I sometimes discover them. The thing is that when they will get older, my boys will have thousand of thousand pictures of them and very few of me. I don’t like being photographed but for sure when I’ll be gone one day, the kids would want to have some pics of me.
      For my street work, I will try to work on a photobook but I’m not sure that I will embark on a pubishing project.