What do I do with boring, unwanted photos?
April 9, 2008 4:09 PM   Subscribe

What do I do with my (terrible, uninteresting) discardable photographs and negatives?

I went through my old photos and pulled out the ones I really want to keep, which leaves easily a couple shoeboxes full of ones to throw out. Plus the negatives, which aren't really associated with the photos in any way (so if you wanted to make a new print of a specific shot, you'd have to hunt through a lot of negatives). I don't want to have these hanging around anymore, but I feel bad about just throwing them away.

If they were older or more interesting, I'd give them to a historical society or ebay them. But they're late 80s and 90s pictures of teenagers/college students making silly faces, many with my thumb in the shot, etc. Really, really boring stuff.

What on earth do I do with these? No craft project ideas, please - I want them gone, and I have about 4863784 craft projects on my to do list anyway. Should I just get over myself and toss them? Can I recycle them somewhere? Is there a group that might want them?
posted by marginaliana to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you want rid of them then get over yourself and put them in the bin. If you want to keep them - and you are on here asking a question about this - then tie them up in a box and put them in the attic or the closet. A few shoeboxes are not too much to store.
posted by fire&wings at 4:20 PM on April 9, 2008

I once asked my college photography professor if I should take special steps to dispose of my negatives or prints, and he rather condescendingly told me to put them in the garbage. Assuming that this is not environmentally unsound advice, it is the advice I give to you.

If old film is recyclable, I bet a local photo lab knows how to get it recycled.

At any rate, just get rid of them. Seems clear they don't have intrinsic value.
posted by chudmonkey at 4:29 PM on April 9, 2008

Best answer: Some art students at your local college/university may enjoy them as 'found art.' We had a similar store of 8mm ('movie') film, for exactly that purpose.

What you find boring, other people find intriguing. (The photos have since been taken down). Even if yours don't have coke in them, some art student somewhere will want to get them into their grubby little hands.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 4:56 PM on April 9, 2008

Of course, if getting them to art students takes any more effort than dumping them in the hallway with 'free vintage 80s-90s photos and associated negatives,' I wouldn't necessarily do much more to try to get them into an artist's hands.

Also, try Craigslist.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 4:58 PM on April 9, 2008

Best answer: Try freecycle, at least for the photos. I had box of 13 incomplete decks of cards (with different backs so you couldn't make a whole deck by combining them) and some one was delighted to come to my house and pick it up.
posted by metahawk at 6:20 PM on April 9, 2008

Freecycle or art school. Totally.
posted by desuetude at 7:30 PM on April 9, 2008

I'll say you should hang onto the pics. Just box 'em and forget 'em. There'll probably be stuff in the background or different angles of (formerly) familiar places that'll make you suck in a breath decades from now. The "obvious keeper" pics you want to keep will eventually be worn out and used up by your eyes.

Maybe I'm weird but in a lot of my old pictures, it's the backgrounds that I barely noticed the first and second times around that make it seem more real.

The negatives? Probably not worth the trouble at all. Toss away.
posted by codswallop at 11:35 PM on April 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I went through a purge of 30+ years of pictures recently, and disposed on 97% of them. Hundreds of pounds. I landfilled the negatives and dumped the pix in the recycle bin.

I'd agree, they are detritus mostly, and valuable to no one but you. While it seems like a violation of some future relative's interests in your personal/family history, that has to be traded off against the tattered pile of possessions that you drag along behind you as you live this life.

Go through one good scrub of each and every one, and keep the unique or best one of any important subject, and consider the rest snapshots. That is the fun part of a purge... you get to look at, consider, reminisce, and re-value each article you touch. (Took me two days for my photos.)

While it didn't occur to me to give them to an art school or such, I do live in Vermont where all such institutions are rare, distant, widely separated, and unknown to me, but I do think that is a great idea. They may have limited utility to such a place.
posted by FauxScot at 4:48 AM on April 10, 2008

Best answer: I believe negs are on mylar, or some other form of plastic. There is a small amount of silver in some b&w negs. The companies that were recycling negatives and xrays for the silver seemed to be creating more environmental mess than they were solving. So, I don't think there's an environmentally appropriate way to recycle negatives. Photos are paper, with a resin coating, again some form of plastic. Whilst googling for an answer to recycling photos, AskMe was the 1st result.
posted by theora55 at 12:02 PM on April 10, 2008

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