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Thursday, 19 July 2007


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Thank you. That should get me off my ass. I have a 15 print project of photographs of this big island to be printed in Kallitype, matted, framed, hopefully put on some kind of gallery wall. I have done the "reify" part. I have all the images, made big negs of them, and I have 4 more prints to make to finish the 15. I am about 1/3 through the "redact" part. And it has been stalled like that for 3 months. I have a hell of a time staying motivated to finish projects. Lots of things, much more important things, like painting the porch, get in the way. So off I go and if anybody in my family asks me what I am doing in my little work area I will tell them the I am Redacting. That will slow them down. Thank for the motivation. E

"Do you have a portfolio that you could present without a single excuse or elaboration as being representative of what you've done as a photographer?"

I can't say that I do, but I also can't say that it'd be useful. Such a portfolio would need to be in constant flux for any photographer whose style is really growing, which eliminates the requirement of redaction. Portfolios are best when they are very narrowly defined; it helps establish a context and communicate a somewhat clearer message than simply "here are the pictures I'm most proud of."

I can say that I have a portfolio of everything I've done in 2005 and another for 2006. (They're on the website, you can go look).

The point of the portfolio for me is to gauge how my personal style changes over time, but also to have a simple way to get advice on my work from others. I've been geeky enough to carry a new portfolio to the bar with me, where I'll ask everybody at the table to star the back of those images they like.

I have some hope that one or another of my projects will result in something so attractive, interesting and artful as to be salable, if only so I can write off a portion of this gear's G.A.S.

So true and so difficault to accomplish.

This hits it pretty square. If you are going to take the trouble to produce photographs, you should finish the job and make sure that the job is completed. It's not completed until someone sees it.

"Portfolios are best when they are very narrowly defined; it helps establish a context and communicate a somewhat clearer message than simply "here are the pictures I'm most proud of."

I think that depends on the purpose of the portfolio. If for convincing a gallery owner to exhibit our works or to showcase our talents for a prospective client then yes, we need to focus the scope of the portfolio.

Eventually, however, we may well want a portfolio consisting of our best works (or those we're most proud of), even if for private viewing. If nothing else, to serve as a reminder for who we used to be.

As to the original topic, the Internet has made many photographers, myself included, a bit lazy as we can now have hundreds, if not thousands, of people view our work without actually printing any of it. The curse of the web gallery.

"Do you have a portfolio that you could present without a single excuse or elaboration as being representative of what you've done as a photographer?"

What a challenge! I'm surprised you didn't include the quantity, say, a dozen.

On the other hand, I'm reminded of the violin maker, who, when asked "How long does it take to finish making one?" responded "I don't know, I've never finished one. They just come and take it away!"

Mike, I'm responding to the siren call, only not yet with my photography. I write songs with an acoustic guitar, and record them in my home studio, only I have a bunch of individual songs that need to be "redacted." In a musical sense, that means to assemble/arrange/master these individual songs into an a cohesive album.

I ordered an Alesis Masterlink that is basically a mix-down deck and mastering machine. My high resolution individual song tracks, on my multitrack recorder, are mixed-down (from individual song tracks to a stereo two-track file) to the Multilink's hard drive for redaction: assembling a playlist, adding compression, limiting, EQing, adding fades if need be, and basically creating a cohesive finished album of songs (sort of like a portfolio) burned to the Redbook standard resolution of 16-bit/44kHz.

The lesson will not be lost when I turn my attention back to photography. Thanks!

A pedant speaks: "reify" is an odd and rather pompous word for Coleman to choose, in place of say "realise" or "materialise", and probably strikes the wrong note. Reification is a philosophical / political term with, usually, a negative meaning i.e. something like "to turn an abstract idea existing in one's mind into a thing, in a way that disguises the unreality of the idea".

But who could argue that to (a) realise your work, and (b) edit it, are the first steps on the road to taking your work seriously. And if you don't take it seriously, why should anyone else?

If your idea is to photograph a slice of cheese, then you hardly need a fancy word like reify to talk about the relation between the idea and a matted, framed, exhibition quality print of a slice of cheese. The word becomes useful when the relation between idea and object is complex, and there is a lot of creative work needed to make the transition. Man Ray's photograph Le Violon d'Ingres, for example, is the reification of a violin shaped female back, but it is also a reification of certain understanding of photographs as visual media and their relation to human perception, and that is a more interesting use of the word.


However Mr. Coleman may feel about your reduction of his redaction, this is a great commentary, worth mulling over for a while. I'm glad you're feeling a little better and hoping you have some semblance of health coverage.

Robin Dreyer

Something was obviously missing in my assortment of prints, slides and digital files. After reading Mike’s article, “Reify and Redact”, I’ve decided to accept his challenge and produce a real and tightly edited portfolio of prints.

As an aid to selection and editing, I’ve made up the following rules:
1. Cutoff date 2006
2. Suitable quality for an 8x10 or better print
3. Only a dozen prints!

The paper, interleave tissue and portfolio box are ordered for the Great Reify and Redact Project and the selection process has begun.

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