I collect photographs. Or maybe I accumulate them. I once had an acquaintance tell me that if your collection isn’t in any type of order than you don’t have a collection. You have an accumulation. That’s stuck with me and I think there is some truth to it. My comic books are certainly a collection. I have a database of my many thousands of comics and I can look up and find the location of any of them. My photos are less organized. But then again they don’t really need to be.

My photo collection isn’t very big. I’ve been collecting fine art photography since the late 1990s when people started selling their work on eBay but it’s not like I’ve bought hundreds of them. I don’t even think I have one hundred photos. I have mostly bought fine art female nudes but sometimes I’ve bought photos of landscapes and doorways. For some reason I have a fondness for pictures of windows and doors. I think it’s because I like the geometry of them. I’m big into rectangles.

Most of the photos I buy are 8×10 inches or smaller. I have a couple of bigger poster sized ones tucked away in portfolio cases but almost all of my collection is in one 11x14x3 inch archival art storage box. I keep the box on a shelf right near the seat I am sitting on this very moment. Occasionally I pull it down and give the contents a look.

I keep my photos two different ways. For the larger photos I mount them on boards with photo corners and then place them in mylar sleeves. I like to pick them up and look att them rather than frame them. Since I’m a comic book collector I use the same bags and boards I have for my comics for the photos. They’re a little bit bigger than comic book bags but I get buy them from the same place. For smaller photos I use three ring binder archival photo sleeves. I have those in 5×7 inches, 4×6 inches, and slide, negative, and baseball card size.

I also try and keep some sort of record of where and when I bought the photos. Give them some provenance. I haven’t always been good at this and have forgotten sometimes so it’s not all complete. Plus I think I have some of the records digitally and not printed out and stored with the accompanying photo. I’ll have to straighten that all out one day if I can.

The two big poster size photos I have are stored mounted on matte board and slipped into a really big piece of mylar. I make my own really big photo collages that are around 20×30 inches. Sometime in the early 2000s when I started putting a lot of my comic book collection into mylar bags I discovered they made all sorts of sizes including up to about 30×40 inches. I bought some of those for my own photos and ended up using them for the big ones I bought too. I probably even bought the big ones since I was confident that I could store them. Those big sleeves aren’t cheap. They run about $6 a sleeve and you have to buy them in a batch of ten. I’ll have to pull those big photos out and put one of them on my easel for a little while. That’s how I look at them.

I mention my photo collection because just this week I got in some Instax photos. They’re the instant Polaroid photography of today. An Instax is a small, 2×3 inches, one-off photo that an Instax camera makes. They’re meant to be a fun instant gratification party thing. I follow a bunch of alt-models on social media and sometimes they sell Instax photos of themselves to make money. In the world of endlessly reproducible digital photography an Instax is supposed to be a one-off that a person can own for themselves. An object of art. An original.

The main problem I have with Instax photos is that they’re not very good art objects. They’re generally small and crappy. There are some 3×4 inch ones that are a little bit bigger but those are still small. The print quality isn’t exactly great either but that has a lot to do with the size.

There is one Instax photo that I bought a few years ago that’s my favorite. It’s by and artist/model named Tiffany Helms and it’s a 4×3 inch Instax that she painted on. It’s a nude photo of her twisted up and in the negative space of the background she painted in two greens and two reds. It creates a flatness and a roundness that I like. This one really is a nice piece of art. I keep it on my drawing table.

Despite me thinking Instax photos are crappy in general I occasionally buy some just because they can be cheap. By that I mean around $5 for an Instax. That way I can drop $20 on four, support a fellow artist, and get a few pieces. One of which must be good. The odds say so. Often Instax photos are sold sight unseen when they’re this cheap. A random grab bag. That’s okay with with me as I like the surprise.

Last month I bought four of them on Etsy from Angie Marie Dreams. Well, actually I bought three but then she went out of town without sending them so to make up for the time it took for me to get them she threw in an extra one. That was cool.

After I got them I did what is now my habit with such small photos. I scanned them at a high resolution (2400 dpi), cropped them, color corrected them a little, and then printed them out on 5×7 inch luster photo paper. I put my prints of the Instax in my photo box along with the original Instax photos. That way I can see the originals or look at the easier to see 5x7s. It’s a good system for looking at them.

So if you’re looking for some photos they’re easy to find online. Just check Ebay, Etsy, or even Instagram. I bet you could find something you like.