Film Description Form

by Vadim Makarov for his Photo Pages

Being a perfectionist in my nature, I take copious notes when I photograph. It has proved to be useful for several reasons: The downside is that it is not always practical to spend precious time with a pencil in hand instead of watching for better shots and taking them. Then I stop writing and only make sure I don't lose the count of rolls.

First page header
Form header

I am using a printed form (MS Word 97, 87KB). If you decide to use it, don't forget to edit the fields with my name and list of equipment. The form is designed for A4 paper size; you may need to tailor its layout because exact dimensions differ from one system to another. It is only available in Word format because you will want to edit it.
Here is another version (MS Word 97, 98KB) of the form for a double-sided printer that I've been using lately.

I carry a pile of pre-numbered forms in my camera bag. They are used through shooting and evaluating, and filed for future reference.

In the field, I fill in the header and two columns - Title and Technical Info. Use a pencil, it is water-resistant.

Other columns are used on the slide evaluation stage, when I analyze my photographs. Having a detailed record of what I did helps to trace causes of problems on technically bad photos and see what settings worked for successful ones. Depending on how much is recorded, finished forms can look messy (example: 1st page, 2nd page) or not (example: 1st page).

These forms become a part of my small chronological archival system. Details about any particular shot can be found in the file with forms. All mounted slides have numbers (and nothing else) written on the mounts with a permanent marker, e.g.

A12-24   A135-35,

where A12 on the left slide is the roll number and 24 is the frame number. The same slide number is used for filenames of scanned pictures. The film page holding unmounted strips from that roll would be marked A12.

I should say that I keep all unmounted frames and never throw away anything. There were times when I went back and picked ones that I initially considered bad. This can happen because your taste or need has changed, because you want another shot in the bracketed sequence for better scanning, or for example, God forbid, when the original is lost.

Another thing I have in my camera bag is a set of coupons for names of people in a group photograph.

Vadim Makarov
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