I’d hazard a guess that most people have folders and folders of unsorted photographs on their computers from various holidays, family events, parties, day trips and more, with no labels, dates or anything. At least most (if not all) of the modern equipment will apply a date to your files as a matter of course (whether its a camera, mobile phone or other device) but the cameras of twenty years ago would not have done so, nor would the ones from a century or more ago. In fact, many families would not have owned a camera at all and would only have been photographed on special occasions in a studio.
How many thousands of images do you have in your collection? Do you have slides? Albums of photographs of unidentified people? Oh, how I wish my forebears had named the individuals in our family album. But does that change the way I work now? Unfortunately, it doesn’t and I wonder if the reasons for my lack of naming/labelling are the same as those of my ancestors. I somehow doubt it!
The reason I have lots of folders which are unsorted is because I am too darned busy. I take photographs at archive offices for clients, tidy them up beautifully, label them and deliver them. Images for my own research, trips and holidays are left on the pile…. for a while …. a long while….
What would happen if that large red vehicle ran me down tomorrow? Who would be able to make head or tail of my folders? Quite frankly, nobody. So, let’s hope that doesn’t occur.
On a serious note though, it really is important to sort images shortly after you take them – after all, will you remember where/what they were a month/six months/a year or more down the track? Doubtful.