An estate sale and contemplating my legacy of photographic clutter

Furniture for Sale, Estate Sale - Austin, Texas

Furniture for Sale, Estate Sale – Austin, Texas

I went to my first estate sale a couple of days ago. It was mildly saddening. So many of us in the affluent West spend time buying things and work the many hours required to pay for these items. Inevitably, these precious things become fodder for pop-up junk sales.

A neighbor mentioned that the estate had a lot of photography related items. I was curious so I went. By the time I got there, I saw some old film gear and endless boxes of slide carousels. No doubt the owner was a serious photographer but mostly in the film world. There were a couple of really old digital point and shoots, completely overpriced. I think it’s really risky to buy gear in these situations, especially digital. You have no idea if they work properly. I would prefer to buy from a reputable local store or a place like KEH where they offer money back guarantees.

What did interest me, however, were the books. There was a sizable library of photo books, both portfolios of famous photographers as well as how-to guides. The collection was telling. Books on early versions of Photoshop and how to move from film to digital. Did the owner successfully make the jump to digital? Of course, I’ll never know. Most portfolios focused on landscapes or on the Western U.S. I saw no books on street photography, for example. I guess you can tell a lot from someone’s collection.

Photography Books found at an Estate Sale - Austin, Texas

I found 4 books of interest and at a couple bucks a pop I added them to my personal collection of clutter. There’s “Avedon’s at Work in the American West”. Presidential photographer David Hume Kennerly’s beautiful black and white collection shot on a medium format Mamiya 7. Ansel Adams’, The Making of 40 Photographs. The only color book was from famous landscape photographer, Galen Rowell.

I thought about my legacy of photographic clutter. Instead of stacks of Kodak carousel slide boxes, I’ll have plastic external hard drives, completely useless without power. At the rate I’m going, I’ll have a bewildering array of digital cameras with no discernible connection. Perhaps my heirs will find this blog and try to make sense of it.

Someday in the future, my “junk” might be auctioned off at a fraction of their original prices. My photo stuff will be bought by someone who will then add it to their pile of junk. On the other hand, digital retains very little value so my cameras might be trashed altogether. Perhaps the books that I bought today will be worth more than the digital cameras I often write about.

Photographic Clutter, Estate Sale - Austin, Texas

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8 thoughts on “An estate sale and contemplating my legacy of photographic clutter

  1. I have sold so much stuff over the years … but the spaces thus created fill instantly. The bookcases, hundreds of books having been given to libraries, schools, and senior centers, are still packed tight. I have no idea how much stuff we have, but it frightens me.

  2. It is a sobering thought, and does make one think thoughts about their own mortality. I think that brillohead2051 puts it in the correct perspective, though.

  3. Really nice score on those books. I’m looking for that Avedon at Work book now to compliment my In the American West book. I’m betting I’ll end up paying a lot more than you did! 🙂

  4. About the value of books : last Christmas, out of gift ideas for my family, I decided to print a book of my pictures. Those pictures were mostly composed of family pictures, but not only. Those books were easily done on the snapfish website (not an endorsement) , and were relatively inexpensive (around $25 each). It was a great success, and my parents took my book everywhere, to show their friends and other family members. I am convinced that those books will stay around in the family for a long time, much longer than my short lived hard drives…..

    So in other words…..books are great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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