I agree with Tam Murray (Inbox, 7 August) on the importance of keeping old negs, or scans of them. I too was contacted recently ‘on the off-chance that you still have the negs’ by someone who wanted a new copy of a photograph I took of him in a motor sport event in 1970. Not only did I have the negs but because of my
ling system and record keeping, I was able to remind him of the exact date when it was taken.
These days we take it for granted that our digital camera will record the date and location, but back then life was very different. I spent most weekends photographing motor sport events for Autosport and Motoring News (now Motorsport News). It was very important that I knew the driver/ car details for every picture I took for them, so I created a database. Every frame on every 35mm lm got a unique reference number and was logged with ‘who, what, where, when’ details. I still have that database.
A few years ago, a leading Jaguar historian asked to look through my archive. Almost apologetically, I mentioned that most of my photos were taken at club-level events, not internationals. ‘That’s exactly why I’m so interested,’ he said. ‘The pro’s went to those; their work is well documented and archived, but they didn’t cover club events – and the amateurs who did generally did not keep accurate records.’ A year later, a photo of mine appeared in a very prestigious (and expensive) leatherbound book on the history of the Jaguar XK120. Not only is it the only picture of an XK120 competing in an autocross (now called autograss) but because I could name the driver, the date and the event, the marque experts have been able to con rm that, despite living a very hard life back then when it was simply an old, well-used powerful sports car, it is still alive today and has been restored back to its original condition.
Keeping accurate records pays off – as I was also able to obtain a copy of the book at a very advantageous price. Mike Dodman