I said yesterday that in nine years of shooting digital I might have gotten thirty or even forty pictures worth printing, and I admit I was being provocative when I said that.
First of all, I meant printing well, which for me is a very different proposition than "printing" per se.
Secondly, I was exaggerating. If I really searched and counted, I might have sixty or even eighty pictures I'd want to print, although I think in that case the quality would begin to fall off in the last ones.
Thirdly, I'm not talking about "good pictures"—competent, well-crafted, decently-seen photographs, such as, for instance, something like this:
The top one is a snapshot of my mother's cousin and his now-deceased setter. It's fine as a family photo in my opinion, but nothing out of the ordinary, nothing I haven't seen before or even taken in that same spot myself before. The portrait of Charlie W. was rejected by his mother because she thought he looked tired and that his hair hadn't been trimmed recently enough. (There's the life of a portraitist in a nutshell.) They're both adequate pictures, perfectly fine for sharing with the people in them and their loved ones. They're just not my best, is all.
I assume most photographers have a lot of those "second level" type of shots—well exposed, well composed, taken in nice light....
• • •
I have to leave for the Pabst Brewery tour now—I'll add to this post later if I can. But the point I wanted to make and the thought I'll leave you with is that more extreme editing seems to me to be a sensible response to the "digital tsunami"—the billions and billions of photographs we're being overwhelmed with these days. It's no longer worth anything just to have a competent shot of something. It's no longer interesting to wade through all the shots somebody took of something; photographs can't be treated as in any way rare any more. For every average, generic shot you take, it isn't just that there are a dozen shots just like it on the web...there are eight thousand shots just like it on the web. The only real chance you have to deserve some sort of notice, it seems to me—or, let's say, the only chance you have to not waste your viewer's time—is to only show as your "real" work the pictures that you really, truly consider your absolute best shots—the ones that speak to you, that have that special magic when everything comes together just right, that people respond to. (The one in the previous post is one of those for me, of my pictures.) In that sense it seems like a very sensible response to the hundreds of billions of photographs inundating the world to show only four a year. Or twelve. Or to work hard for fours years for a show of thirty pictures or for ten for a book with eighty pictures.
Of course, not everybody works the same way, and I'm only talking about the way I work. But now I've really got to get going.
Note: Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. More...
Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.