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Saturday, 05 February 2011


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www.moo.com print packs of 50 business cards with as many different fotos in the pack as you like - lets you carry round a "mini-portfolio" all the time - and you get good feedback when you let people pick which design they want to keep.

It sounds like he invented what they now call "Artist Trading Cards". Using them like that is a cool idea. It also reminds me of Brooks Jensen's "introduction books", a set of small prints spiral bound together that he can stick in a pocket when traveling. When he wants permission to photograph a person or place that requires it, he has some prints to show the kind of work he does in order to reassure and encourage cooperation from the subjects. A folio arrangement would be better though since it would be easier to edit the collection or to replace them as they got dog eared.

He invented the analogue iphone and never knew it.

Thank you, Mike (and Chris wherever you are) for this great idea. I, for one, am not often able to edit my own photographs very well. Its like I can't get enough distance from them to judge them properly. This 'mini-portfolio' idea is superb. Always having it with me to show people would get me the feedback I really need (instead just the wheels turning round in my head all the time).

I'm embarrassed to always be bringing up music-related analogies, but I just can't seem to help myself.

The photographer's portfolio seems to be like the process of putting together an album. Musicians usually have many more songs than the usual ten or eleven that show up on their album. And like taking pictures, an artist might have to write five or six songs for every one song that makes the cut. I recall Bruce Springsteen saying that he had fifty or sixty songs that he whittled down to his "Darkness On The Edge Of Town" album. And it's common for a musician or a band to test the songs before a live audience before making a final decision, like Christopher Baily showing his mini portfolio.

What sort of risks do you run into in letting other people determine your best pictures? IME, my own favorite photos are almost never the ones that other people happen to like...

"...one of the best bodies of photographic work I've seen in my life, published or unpublished, known or unknown."

That's quite a remarkable statement, Mike. If you ever reconnect with your friend, and have the opportunity to see that collection again, I'd be interested in hearing about the experience.

Some work resonates so strongly that it becomes a permanent part of whatever it is that makes us who we are. Making that kind of work is what it's all about.

Fascinating. Any chance of tracking this man down and putting some of his work on your site? After your description of it, I'd love to see his work.

The head line of your post "The Lost Portfolio of Christopher Bailey" caught my eye…….you see I really did have a lost portfolio which came back to me, when I first started my photojournalist career in the1970's I was working for a small weekly newspaper in my hometown of Langford called the Goldstream Gazette on Vancouver Island, when I though I had a good enough portfolio I took a ferry trip to the big city of Vancouver, BC to see if I could interest the Vancouver Sun newspaper in my work, the then photo editor was much too busy to see me, so I just left the portfolio with him, I planned to come back in a week or two in which I would pick up my work, well wouldn't you know it the newspaper went on strike a week later, the strike lasted 6 months. In the meantime life went on and I found employment as a photographer at a paper in Brampton Ontario, near Toronto, my first job on a daily newspaper. As the years went on I forgot about leaving my portfolio at the Sun newspaper, I figured it must have been thrown out, in the aryl 1980's I ended up coming back to British Columbia, where I got a photographer's job with the Kelowna Daily Courier, and where I am still employed today. One day about ten years ago, I got a phone call from the Vancouver Sun photo department asking what I wanted them to do with my portfolio, I was thinking to myself, what portfolio could they be talking about ?, I didn't recall sending them a portfolio, they said it was quite old looking, all black and white pictures, could it be my lost portfolio after 22 years ?, so I asked them to send it back to me, and sure enough when I opened the package , there was my old Goldstream Gazette portfolio, one of the first I ever made. I was all tattered and curled up at the edges , but the pictures were still in remarkably good shape, it had sat in the photo editor's desk all those years !

This is an incredible story, and I'm passing it on to a pal who is a photographer in South Carolina in the possibility, since he's involved in the local art scene (and travels the low country), he may have some idea of his whereabouts or might have heard of him...it's interesting to note, that although I'm flummoxed every time I hear a newscast about the conservation, far right-wing mayhem associated with society and politics down there, the Carolinas always seem to be a place where some extremely creative people seem to gravitate to; must be easy to disappear from outside influences, or something...

Dear Mike,

I remember you mentioning your friend's mini-portfolio a long time ago, almost in passing, in a thread about editing. At around the same time, I noticed that one or two days a week, the local Ritz Camera offered 3x5 prints from files for seven cents apiece.

Getting those prints to come out right turned out to be kind of a pain, but that's another story. I eventually ended up with a "deck" of 52 that I packed in an index card case, and my friends and I had a lot of fun spreading them out on a table top at a local bar and shuffling through them to find the 20 or so that were good enough for a "real" portfolio.

The benefit, of course, was instant, intimate and interactive feedback; but I found another important benefit, too--editing is quite enjoyable as a social activity. And seeing as how the goal was to make and show prints, it made a lot of sense to be looking at prints, however small, rather than projected or backlit images.

So it is now a tradition, and almost part of the process: when I need some feedback in a hurry, I'll have some small prints made, and I and one or more trusted pairs of eyes will spread out the prints and shuffle them around and discuss them over a round of drinks or a meal. More often than not, we'll attract some welcome attention and the feedback pool will grow.

Thank you again, Mike, for the great advice. It's nice to know the name of the artist who came up with this, too. I'm going to try even smaller prints next time. (Let me point out the obvious fact that the smaller the print, the more important the overall graphical strength of the image, and the less important the fine details. Overall a good thing for finding the strongest images.)

robert e

P.S. Re Player's comment about Springsteen's "Darkness": about twenty tracks that didn't make the final cut were released last year as "The Promise" (via TOP's Amazon link of course).

I also always edit new work that I find important by printing small prints (2x3 inches) and arranging them on my tables, floors or wherever they may end up. There's also a card game I've invented yesterday while having a beer in a pub and trying to think of a way to make a short viral video to promote the project of crowdfunding the exhibition of my photos from Norway. You need a big (at least a 100 thick) stack of smallish (roughly card sized) prints and at least 3 players. You start by dealing 6 photos (facing down) to each player and then the first player discards a photo, and requests the other players to discard theirs containing the same feature. Feature is established by the player who discarded initially. It can be "more than 4 people" or "clouds" or "a statue" and it has to be visible in the photo. If another player has such a photo, he then discards it, if not, he draws from the deck until he can find one. The player who had to draw takes over and gives a new task. The winner is the person who discards all the cards from his/her hand first.

You wrote about Christopher Bailey's portfolio on the Leica suers Group in a 2000 thread called "Portfolio rant". http://leica-users.org/v18/msg04993.html Another time you mentioned Christopher's broken Nikkormat and how the loss of the camera changed his ability to get the results he wanted.

I read this and immediately decided it was a great idea. I carry about 40-50 3x4" prints in a Moleskine Memo pockets http://www.moleskine.com/catalogue/classic/hard_black_cover/memo_pockets__pocket.php with me everywhere. I show them to everyone: http://gallery.leica-users.org/v/freakscene/Freakscene_001/L1002579.jpg.html they are especially useful if you constantly add new work; something I don't do enough of with the pressures of my regular job at the moment.


Mini editions of popular photo books are also useful - an example is Phaidon's mini edition of The Photography Book - great to take on a trip or just to enjoy at the coffee shop. I still like to have the regular size edition, but that's not something you can easily carry around. The book is 5 by 6 1/2 inches and images are 3 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches.

Maybe mini photobook portfolios are another way to present one's work - has anyone tried this?

I print my businesscards at moo.com. They offer various sizes, but I go with the regular size. The print and paper quality is top notch, and you have the option to layout both sides of the cards yourself. The kicker is that you can upload any number of photos to use on the front side of the cards, and Moo will print an equal amount of each photo. I had my best 20 photos or so printed on mine, and use them as a mini-portfolio, letting people choose their favourite card from the deck. Recommended.

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