One thing I find about being a railfan is that I do a lot of housekeeping, rather than actual railfanning.

By housekeeping, I mean things like renaming or organizing photos, recording details of things that I’ve seen, filing magazines, that kind of thing.

I’ve heard that about many photographers. Not much of your time is actually spent taking pictures. Especially when you’re a professional photographer, much of your time is spent with the business, seeking new clients, servicing existing clients, doing taxes, payroll, etc. Definitely not the fun stuff.

I’ve been trying to streamline my photography workflow. One thing I stopped doing a few years ago was tracking locomotive numbers in a database. I used to do that quite religiously, but over time I found it less and less useful and therefore I dropped it.

In many ways, I am tempted to stop renaming photos, but I think I would regret that. Often that is the only way to document where I was, and what I was doing. I certainly don’t write a blog post for every railfan outing, so I can’t rely on that, although it is, my blog is has been helpful for me to look back on.

The header photograph of the Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo van is part of my photography workflow. I purchased that slide from an online auction site. It has no markings on the back, so I have to figure out where it was taken (London, Ontario according to the excellent TH&B Historical Society).

Then I scan it, give the image a number (#1376) and put the details in my Slide and Photograph Collection spreadsheet, name the image file, and put on my file server under /General Railroad/Ontario. Next I stick a label on the back of the photograph with the number and put it in my “Photographs by Other People #2” binder. Whew.

The older I get, the more conscious I am of how I spend my time. Not every minute has to be productive; people need downtime and fun time.

What I don’t want to do is waste my time doing something that I don’t like doing, or spend time and energy on people that aren’t good for me. That sounds harsh, and maybe it is… but we only have so much time and we should spend it wisely.

How much housekeeping do you do with your photos?

4 thoughts on “Housekeeping”

  1. Hi Steve,

    During and after rail fanning, I’m constantly thinking and writing which photos go to the blog, which go to social media, which videos go to Youtube. It takes awhile when attempting to have no duplication.

    But that’s nothing new for me. After railfanning all day in Portage, sunburnt 14 year-old me had to sit up and write everything down, roster in hand. Photographic evidence in this post:

    In the same house lived my uncle, who famously said “If it feels good, do it.” The opposite of which naturally is, if it doesn’t feel good, just don’t do it.


  2. I do as well, though maybe not to the same extent as you Steve!

    Regardless, for each folder of photos (for example a railfan trip), I will have a Word document that has train information/locations, etc.

    For older slides, they get added to a master file that has the date/type/photographer listed. If I share photos then they would get renamed with the same information attached to the file name…

    Fun and games!


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