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Sunday, 20 November 2011


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Bil Hanson, definitely....

Woww. I am somewhat speechless. Great stuff! Well, ... now I really want to see all of those 600+ entries. Please?

Funny. I can relate to most of those images much more than I do to most semi-finalists. They all have a sense of irony, an ambiguity that makes them (to me) creations of art rather than merely 'decor'. I see enough generic work and really miss some meaning.
They are far from perfect in the aesthetic sense, but they leave the viewer wondering and IMO the definition of 'fine art' has to do with the beholder rather than with the author.
I can see why the 20 you chose are more 'appropriate' for a print sale (i.e. be in higher demand), but personally I like the ones in this post quite a bit more. Perhaps you should pick your choices in the next round or in the last one according to your personal taste.

No criticism intended, Mike, but I thought the selection was (needed to be) a populist choice to generate the voting numbers/interest. But, if you had shown the Bill Hanson and Michael Fioritto, for instance, they would have had my vote over the contenders. The reason being that they, for me, are the sort of pictures found in photographers albums rather than general subject based photography books or camera company annuals where many of the pictures feel pretty familiar rather than stand out. I fully understand your choices...any chance of a second selection...no ?.. ah, well.
Best wishes for the sale, I think it's a highly commendable thing to do.

Jesus, Mike, before reading that international submitters were somehow discouraged because of potential sale logistics, I was about to send a dove picture very much in the mood of Michael Fioritto's. I don't want my comment to look like a shameful plug so I don't link it.

These picks are very nice as well but, to be honest, I cannot see nearly anything of Shaheeb's photograph in my iMac screen at half intensity!

I'm pretty sure the plant in the David Stock photo is some kind of Agave. Perhaps Agave atteunata. Whatever exactly it is, it's a very popular ornamental plant in some areas: they're all over LA, for example. It is, for me at least, probably the most photographically enticing plant species.

Wow, I am relieved to see this post. The 20 semi finalists left me reexamining whether I was on another planet with my tastes, but now I understand the economics of it. In fact, the announcement of the final 20 was a catalyst for me and my wife to visit our local museum of contemporary art on Saturday in order to recalibrate ourselves.

To be frank, I would chosen any of today's pics to display in my home over the actual finalists. I couldn't even bring myself to vote on the original 20.

Thank you! Like sneye above, I find these much more interesting to me, personally, than any of the semi-finalists; however, I do appreciate what you mean by the sellability and mass appeal. I guess I'm just not that much of a mass kinda guy. Then again, I don't think I ever was :-)

These pictures are a lot more interesting than the semifinalists. Yes, they are not decor like many of the semifinalist, but they are a lot more giving to look at. I never got around to write a comment on the first list of images, but if I had, I would have written that they were nice, but that most were just that (well, and that a bit too many is divided with a horizontal line in the middle ;-)
If I once more buy a picture through this site, I would love for it to cheap enough in price that I can afford it to be bit of a challenge to me and the guest that later looks at it hanging on a wall.

Michael Fioritto.....definitely.

Uh, one more comment: Even with you decorist selection criteria I don't get it that Bill Hanson and John Gossage was not included in the semifinalists.

Two things. First, I don't know if are there the technology but would be an interesting idea show the entire group of images to submit for election by the readers of TOP. I don't say that I don't like the way this are managed, only that I am curious about what would be the results to compare with the system you are managing.
Second. I like too a lot more some images that you show in this post than the selection your did of the first 20. I think Luka Knezevic-Strika, Bill Hanson and David Stock images are a lot more powerful than most of the photos you selected for the first round. Probably there will be a lot of opinions confronted one to another. This is what I am curious about the experiment I mentioned first.
The good thing is we are knowing a lot of good work, would be a possibility to know the websites of the photographers?
Many thanks

Mike, you may be3 underestimating your audience. I would put Knezevic-Strika, Fiorito, or Schimberg up on my wall before any of the first 20 that you showed.


These are much more interesting than the semi-finalists. I don't have unlimited wall space (or finances), so what I buy and hang has to be more than a generically interesting pretty picture.

"...few people will hang a picture of an unrelated stranger on their wall when the picture appears to be a portrait..."

For whatever it's worth, the first photograph I ever paid money for was a portrait of a complete stranger. And it has no "other kind of appeal" than the fact that it's a compelling image. (Apply your own definition if you like, but it compelled me to buy it.) It's still hanging on my wall after twenty five years. And I like it just as much as when I bought it.

I will forever be a statistical outlier... and damn proud of it.

John Gossage's picture was not a submission! I was just including it as a sample of the work I was talking about. I'll fix the text to make that more clear.


Personally, I would love to have Tommy Brown's picture on my wall more than any of the other semi-finalists. Agree that many people choose to hang up pictures for aesthetic reasons, but people can hang up pictures based on other reasons as well.

Great as your initial selection was, Mike, there were none that I would actually buy and hang. There are at least eight that I would consider from this round, though.

Perhaps a benevolent dictatorship is the way to go?

I would hang the John MacKechnie portrait in a minute - more than a photograph of a person, it is about light and texture.

Oh what an enjoyable selection - particularly liked the sublime John MacKechnie and the lasting entertainment value of the Bill Hanson.

The Luka Knezevic-Strika is very striking, looks like a still from a Catherine Breillat film, I wonder if it would loose its enigmatic charm if we had a full explanation?

I like Ducks. Not too serious. Fine with me.

But "Packers"?

Not five cents for a single, one exception Jim Hamstra's.

Mike, Looking at your selections and explanation of your reasoning, I would no doubt be a poor candidate to judge something like this. All I can say is that there are a couple of photos in your favorites I would pay good money for, particularly the Bill Hanson photo.

Ah, that's better! I guess I'm more appreciator than displayer, or don't much care about the appearance of my space, or I'm a lousy interior decorator, or just weird, but I'd put Michael Fioritto's print on my wall before any of the semifinalists.

And I'd like to point out that Bill Hanson's beautiful composition also fits the "pictures of photographers" category. (I think.)

The comment posted by sneye prevented me from writing a less lucid comment. With one exception, it perfectly expresses my sentiments. The exception: I do not understand "They are far from perfect in the aesthetic sense." Perhaps I do not understand what "perfect in the aesthetic sense." is.

stephen f.

Mike - are you going to publish the photographer's website / email? I'd definitely consider buying a print from Abdul and Bill!

Maybe next time you should follow your own interest more than what you think "other people" would like? Because some of these are definitely more interesting than your previous selection.
People come here to hear from Mike J., not to hear from everybody. Now I understand why the first selection was a bit run of the mill (with a few exceptions). Like you I would never hang a flower print on my wall.

On a sidenote: I would appreciate it if you would widen the submission and voting time to three or at least two days. I only check my reader once a day or two days (and I am definitely a regular reader), so especially when you post in the evening US time I never even see the post before it's closed again.

"This shot doesn't have the wow factor needed to make people anxious to part with their cash, but it has a contemplative quality that is precisely what some conventional "grab-you" pictures lack."

Which is precisely why I haven't bought any pictures or posters since... Well, I can't remember when. Maybe a few for my barracks room back in the early 80's, but certainly nothing since. Getting constantly grabbed is tiring, and after a while it's no longer special.

Meanwhile, the Japanese woodblock prints from David Bull (worth looking up) that adorn our home continue to amaze and delight even after years.

Prints as decor? I wonder if any of the photographers would mind if I asked them to photoshop the colours a bit so that the print would match my sofa?

Just kidding, of course. But it was interesting to read your ideas about prints as decor and to realize that some superb photos may not make the cut for the print sale because they are less hangable on the wallable.

I love that D. Stock photo. It's all about that beautiful light in the center of the plant and then you notice the swipe of red paint. Cool!!

Indeed, I think I like today's selections, as a whole, much more than the set of preliminary prints. We TOP readers can be so perverse.

I'm sure your sense of a sale like this is right on, but for me, I'd gone for Shaheeb or Hanson had they been there.

Dear Mike,

It's already been established that I don't know what sells and you do, but I was intrigued to find that I'd feel far more likely to buy most of today's photos than most of the ones you picked for the vote.

I am not the audience, apparently.

BTW, I've been thinking about writing a column on the generic problems of photographing landscapes. Maybe that'll relieve you from burden of snark, although I'd love to read it.

pax / Ctein

I tried to select my votes on a combination of personal preference and what I considered salability. Since there are many different reasons for buying a photo -or any other art object- I tried to strike a balance among home decor, desire to own a "great" image, and investment (belief that the object will grow in value). The three I voted for were appealing to the lovers of Norman Rockwell and/ or the urban art lovers (e.g. the Ashcan School) and two "formal" and "informal" landscapes, which might appeal to 20th century art lovers. Were they good choices? Well they were for me, but who knows what the market will say?

What sneye said. How could these not sell better?

Ooh, that Jim Hamstra shot is remarkable. It's just like a thousand other birch forest shots--except that the trees have apparently dropped acid! (For me, being like the standard nice shot is a strength in this case, since it emphasizes the twist. I also meant it to say that the technical standards are met.)

Lars Röglin and David Stock's photos here also strike me very well (I seem to have some of the same thing you do for photos of people taking photos).

I'll second Ctein's comment. I especially like the shots by the following and prefer them to any in the official list:

Bill Hanson
Tommy Brown
Luka Knezevic-Strika
Abdul Shaheeb

But then, I'm not buying anything right now so don't listen to me.

I just want to say that I love Luka Knezevic-Strika's and Bill Hanson's photos in your post.

I would buy any of the first seven reader photos posted here (I'm not counting the Gossage) before any of the 20 presented the other day. While I understand the argument about saleability, I feel like the majority of the audience on this site would be more interested in pictures like the ones posted today. I could be completely wrong about this. But I say it as someone who didn't submit an entry because I didn't think my work would hold up against the quality of stuff I expected to be submitted. I hope this isn't coming across as snobbery. Today's post features a lot of downright interesting pictures (the kind I expected would make the cut to be offered for sale). While the group of 20 has some very nice pictures, I don't find any of them (other than maybe the posed woman and the barbershop) terribly interesting. If I'm thinking about hanging something on my wall I want it to be something that I keep coming back to, something that demands your attention. The Turnley prints are a great example of that. Maybe I'm being naive, but I feel like any of those three would have sold well even if they were made by someone we'd not heard of before. Pretty pictures don't offer much beyond being pretty.

Mike, I'm struggling not to feel, well, insulted that you witheld the Hanson, the Knezevic-Strika, the Fioritto and gave us waterfalls and pretty girls.

These are much more interesting to me than the first round photos, except maybe a couple New Topographics / Dusseldorf School type pictures in that group.

The Luka Knezevic-Strika, Michael Fioritto and David Stock photos blow me away.

I have to say, I'd be more likely to purchase just about any of today's selections between Tommy Brown and Bill Hanson above all but 103 yesterday. Each of them has a mystery to the work that makes me want to think about the image more than if it had just been pretty.

It could also be why I own several dozen photography monographs, and only a couple of cheap prints from 20x200 (which I haven't framed) - I'm not the audience that buys prints for decor. For one nice enough print, I can have five outstanding books that will keep me occupied for much longer.

Hi Mike

Never commented before. I find your personal favourites much more interesting. And I´m in line with Jan´s comment. I´m coming to TOP because of MJ and his view on things. I also submitted a picture and my first reaction was:"Hm what would MJ really like to see? " But in the end I wanted to stay true to myself and submitted an entirely different picture. I would have been really proud of myself if i had managed to get in your favourites. More so than in your semifinalists choice.

I agree, roughly, with the other commenters, in the following sense:

I think this lot is a group of generally better photographs, and as such are more likely to contain things that at least a certain kind of photographer will buy. That said, who cares? The steam locomotive from the previous batch is definitely a lot more commercial -- the more I look at it (and, apologies to the artist for this) the less I like it, and the more it looks like an image from a Yay!!! Steam Trains!!! calendar (remaindered at your local chain bookstore for $6.99). Which is kind of the point -- they don't put those calendars together because they don't sell, the public loves that stuff. #112 is a simply superb example of the cliche, the more I look at it the more I realize that it's extremely commercial. That is worth repeating: It's a superb example of the form.

It deserves to win, it's the one that's going to sell. The fact that *I* wouldn't buy it is less than irrelevant.

I have to concur 100% with Ctein,

It was with considerable reluctance that I voted for two of the Poll Pictures. I seriously doubt I would want to give wall space (or money) to any of them. And yet there are some absolute crackers presented here today that make connection with the inner me.

I wonder if there is not a difference in picking sale lists for the general public and for people with a passion for photography.

Thanks for providing the thought fodder yet again.

Yes, Mike, you've put your finger on the issue for photographers -- and probably for all artists -- who take photography seriously as an art form and think that, in order to be truly artful, a photo has to be something more than pretty, something more than visually striking, even, perhaps, something more than emotionally engaging: few would want to hang that weird stuff over their couch.

Unless, as you say, it's by somebody famous.

I'm one who would hang something non-decorative, even anti-decorative in my house, as long as it opens up my mind, but my wife's not, really. So I go out at times with the explicit purpose of shooting something pleasing that I ordinarly would not in order to have something for the walls. Frankly though, in the end, those are usually a bit "off the wall" to go on the wall.

It's why I found most of the finalists uninteresting. You may want them on the wall today, even till the end of the year, but how long before their decorative impact ceases to exist and you just don't see them any more.

Of course, the pinnacle is an image with the "wow" and the "oh . . . OH!" and the "Jesus!" and the "Hmm" all at once. Those are the images that last.

I think you should have two print sales. a selection of your picks for general consumption and a selection of your own favourites. Like many others there were several pictures in the above I would buy, all things being equal.

This is no criticism of the official candidates, Mike, nor of your process. But I agree that this set of images is strong and clearly has powerful appeal to a different segment of your audience (me included). There are two in this group I would consider purchasing. (Not John Gossage's...I think I already have that one in "Berlin" ;-} . Knowing John as I do I'm sure he'd be amused!)

Clearly what I would pay for and what most people would pay for is quite profoundly different. Judging by the comments on this thread, a lot of TOP readers and the estimable Ctein are not "most people" either.

I feel a lot better now. After the initial selection I was feeling a little like someone had borrowed my house for a party while I was out.

I have to say I am totally blown away by Luka Knezevic-Strika and Bill Hanson. All the narrative and grittiness one could wish for.

The vote was about the picture we would like to appear in the print offer. I chose as many as six. Had the question been which picture I would have considered buying if it had made it to the top of the selection process, I would not have voted at all.

Today's set confirms my feelings, but I am glad you explained the rationale behind your choice.

From all the pictures shown it is Bill Hanson's that appeals most to me. It is one of those rare photos that absorbs you, which you can look at without getting tired. It is a question of depth.

What makes you think your readers have decor?

Bill Hanson! Bill Hanson! Bill Hanson!

OK, takes differences of opinion to make a horse race...but come on! Hanson's shot is EXACTLY the type of photo I would put on the library wall. It will stir interest and wonder every time it is viewed and every time in a different way. It combines what straight photography really does best, record or reflect reality, with a marvelous abstract quality that imparts a permanent sense of mystery to the image.

pld (obviously unclear on the concept in San Francisco)

On my (calibrated) monitor I can't really make out what the Abdul Shaheeb image is. It is simply a couple of dark grey smears on a black background, probably the result of a discrepancy in the relative brightness of our monitors.

The Bill Hansen and Jim Hamstra images are both wonderful, i.e. more appearing to me than any of the original semi-finalists as a potential print purchase. Of the original 20 the only one I could see as a print was the unusual view of the Statue of Liberty but the print would (IMHO) need to be measured in feet, not inches and I have neither the money nor the space for a print on that scale.

I don't buy prints with 'decor' in mind. How they fit in my living space never enters my mind. I use photographs/art to transform my living space, not conform to it but as someone who sells prints occasionally I share your dilemma on determining what will appeal to buyers.

What I have observed is that what I perceive as my 'decor' images don't sell, even to the general public. Often those that do sell are those that I consider idiosyncratic, not likely to appeal to anyone other than me. The one I submitted was just such an image. I printed it when I first shot it but hung it at home in my office where only my wife & I saw it (she liked it too). Last year moved it to my studio where during an open house a buyer spotted and all but snatched it off the wall. I hadn't even intended to sell it. It was there for my own enjoyment. "Go figure" they say. I clearly don't know what is going to appeal to buyers. I'm not sure I ever will.

While I find many of the images intriguing, the only image to truly catch my eye and stop me in my tracks was the photo of the twisty trees. This, along with your comments regarding landscapes got me thinking…

As someone who photographs nature almost exclusively, I’m always befuddled by those who have an aversion to flowers and landscapes. Were I being absolutely honest, I’d also admit to being slightly annoyed when such an aversion is expressed, because it’s almost always accompanied by a dose of snark and/or contempt. Admittedly, there is an abundance of nature-related photos - many of them not terribly good(perhaps mine included, at this early point in my photographic journey) - and this abundance of frequently mediocre work often leads to such contempt. Yet I remain befuddled, I believe because of my intense love of nature. To me, photographing people is generally akin to punishment; I feel the same with regards to viewing photographs of people. I imagine this places me in a small and peculiar minority, but I find humans to be perhaps the least interesting creatures on the planet. I share a similar lack of enthusiasm for other subject matter. I don’t always limit myself to photographing nature, but it’s the only subject matter for which I’m truly passionate. If I could not and did not photograph nature, I might very well sell my gear. My love of photography is directly tied to my love of nature, and it does not exist independently of my love of nature. I think this is why nature photographers feel so passionate about what they do, and why it’s so difficult for those who don’t share that passion to understand it. It’s also why it’s so easy for others to deride the work such passion produces.

But of course, as they say, variety is the spice of life. In a way, I’m pleased that everyone doesn’t share my passion. As I mentioned, I found many of the images you chose to be intriguing, and it’s always fascinating to hear and see what inspires others.


Well, first - if you think the 'Fighting Ducks' is uncool, I just don't know what to say. So I'll move to the comments on what folk buy to hang on their wall. Decorative, etc. Portraits of unknowns, no. So 'yes' to all you say about that, but I think true for non-photographers. The photographers I know hang interesting/good/great photographs on their walls, no matter what the subject matter, etc. Which is your audience? I wonder if the comments you're getting will shed any light on this.



Mike, I'd like to point out that anyone who wants a (small) print version of LukaKnezevic-Strika's photo can get it in the 2011 PDML Photo Annual (all profits to charity). ;-)

As editor, I get to go through all the submitted photos every year and Luka's submissions invariably make my short list for best photos in the book. Considering how different my taste in photography is from yours that's quite a statement. There's a lot of talent out there...

Wonderful photographs all around, and great promotion for all the photographers mentioned.

Mike, yesterday I voted for three or four of the semifinalists - but that was strictly relative, within the limited options. Had today's more personal selection been included, my top three would have come from the latter: MacKechnie, Knezevic-Strike & Hanson. And yes, they would be my choice to put on my walls also - money and space providing. You see, I don't care much for 'decoration' (can't bear with background music either).
But what a wonderful project this is, with so much two-way, heart-felt communication about the purely visual. Thank you!

I missed out on voting and have just read these latest posts as have been travelling (lucky me). Have to say that my favoutite is the image by Luka Knezevic-Strikes. I would buy it. Lovely moody colours and a sense of mystery. Really enjoying catching up with all the posts and comments...thanks Mike!

After I saw your selections, I felt I had a pretty good idea what sort of photo to submit next time.

This post clarifies further, and confirms what I thought I gleaned from the semifinalists post.

I think your analysis is spot on. I would buy any of these - but not to display. I would buy them as 5x7s or 8x10s, in a group of two to five images from the same photographer. I would take them out of their portfolio, or open their album, and ponder them, and then put them away again, several times a year, for many years. In other words: these are photographs for photographers, of the kind I look for in heavy, skillfully printed photography books.

I wouldn't put any of them on my wall. This is not an insult, it's just not what they would be "for" in my world. Possibly this is why your black and white photo didn't sell as much as you would have liked? I would have been interested in a "whole plate size" unframed print, maybe in one of those folder portfolios you like so much. But I would want to pay a "sample sized" price for it. Not really worth your time.

Also, Ctein, I would be interested in a set of small (around whole plate or 5x7 size) prints of the work you used to illustrate your books. Something better than a press can do for book illustrations, but not unimaginably perfect. Once again, really, really, not worth your time, and probably not good for your reputation as a master printer. But I'd still like to hold your works in my hand.


Totally nonplussed by your original selection, yet would put almost all of these on my wall. I reckon instead of second guessing other peoples taste you should go with your gut, remember we're mostly here because we like your taste in photos (as well as your writing, obviously).
All the best, Mark

Count me among those who find this selection far more interesting than the previous one. It's a shame that, as is too often the case, commerce took precedence over art, although I certainly understand your rationale...

Not Aloe, although that's a good guess. It's Agave attenuata.

Yeah, I get all that, but I would have thought that the aim was the combination of the stunning picture that was also suitable to hang on the wall. In 600 photos there was hardly a one that fit both camps? Revealing that the choice was based on decor seems to diminish the finalists as well as to not satisfy the fine photo enthusiast.
But, I'm glad I didn't have to choose. The cries of dissatisfaction would be just about the same I think. Whoever did it. Tough being a judge.
Love the painted plant shot.

Mike, thanks for the exercise; I' m sure it was laborious. Even as one of the Refusés, ( I missed the flower memo), I found it mostly entertaining, educational, though like Ctein, the mysteries of salability elude me. The fact that, for me, I liked 10% of the semis (Carpark and Hummingbird, yes I liked the Gursky, having an affinity for 19th. c. luminism, and 20th. minimalism) was indicative of good curating.

I loved a few in the original selection, the car park picture above all (that was the one I voted for in the poll), though the telegraph pole with road and clouds was very close. I love pretty much everything you're showing here, though. Wonderful selection. I don't have a good idea of what will sell and what won't but must say that you're getting some fine submissions.

I was trying to understand what was going on with the first set of photographs. There was nothing in that set that I would ever want to hang on the wall. There are several in this set that I would love to hang on the wall. Maybe you forgot that most of your audience are actually photographers? Maybe this also explains my reactions to your previous print sales (I haven't bought anything yet...).

The single shot so far that I would have been interested in buying is the one by Abdul Shaheeb, and then only (probably) if Ctein printed it.

Love the Tommy Brown, Jeff Schimberg and Bill Hanson photos. I'd love to see a larger body of work from each photographer, if these are representative samples -- maybe you could link to homepages etc (though I can and will Google)? Like the dog photo (which is a classic), I much prefer these to any of the ones on sale! But then I'm not in a position to buy any of the prints, so my opinion doesn't really count for much :).

Now that's better. On the semifinalists i did choose and vote (minority vote!), but it was sort of like voting at italian political elections: you simply have to choose the one that promises to be the least bad; not really like you are casting your vote with 100% enthousiasm and passion.
While today's selection is another story completely.
(PS: i am italian)

Like so many others, I also feel that this collection touches me much more than many of the actual finalists... On landscapes: I have produced quite a lot of landscapes and for a while this is the only subject that interested me. But I'd agree in that much of landscape photography out there does not touch me. At yet - a landscape that does touch me, does so more than maybe anything else.

I (generally) prefer these photographs to the semi-finalists.

These, in my opinion, are much more photographs than the others, which are, for the most part, more painterly. I take up the cause of painting often, because I think many photographers would do better (and be better satisfied with their work) using a brush, instead.

In any case-- they are also, I think, better as works of art. They are more interesting, evocative, and provocative. That's what I would like to have in my room. Things that are only pretty are so boring. You can't hold a conversation with them. For the most part, I can hold a longer conversation with these photographs.


What everyone else seems to be agreeing to in this post. These pictures are a lot more interesting than the semifinalists. Them others are pleasing in a generic kind of way -- decor as you (snarkily?)put it.

Dear Folks,

To everyone lining up behind me.... uhh, I ain't on the winning side. I'm a veteran of three of these sales, involving nine prints, and Mike's batting average regarding what will sell is much better than mine.

This ain't about art, it's about commerce. Mike's eye for that is the superior one. A modest number of you agreeing with my taste doesn't change that.

Please remember that you're squabbling over the cream of the crop. Mike didn't throw up any old garbage, Friday, it was 3% of what he got in submissions. It's possible to overstudy.


Dear Will,

Producing a set of half-page prints wouldn't destroy my brand or reputation. Problem is that such a set would still sell for $250-$300 to be worth my time, and that's sans a fancy presentation.

If you or anyone else wants to discuss their interest in such a thing, email me: [email protected]. Please don't post comments here about it.

pax / Ctein

So what does a sellable foto need?

An orginal composition: no.
A great subject: no.
Breathtaking technique: no.
Wall filling size: no.

It just needs someone to select it, based on his or hers personal set of taste, style and preferences. Now Mike was the selector du jour so attacking Mike isn't fair at all. If you like a picture in the "not made the cut" section better then the once in Mike's cut, tough luck, that is preciesly how the art markets works. You make what you like and you have to find the person (buyer, curator, gallerist) who likes what you make. I showed my pictures to a gallerist once and the answer blunt and honest: "I only have use for staged photography because the rest does not sell". Okay, his view, and I have to live with it, no use discussing. This time it is Mark's view, no use duscussing. The next time, hell maybe Ctein can do the curating and see what that turns up. But I guarantee anyone that of the pictures that would not make Ctein's cut, some of the general audience would say the same. I voted for the simple green and white wall. I learned today it would meet all my criteria and if I would have money to spare it would be over my couch.

Greetings, Ed


I agree that pigeons make great subjects, although generally disregarded as flying rats...

You may enjoy this photograph. It's not B&W and digitally captured.


Greetings from Switzerland,


Mike, I had the thought that this might be a good time to take a poll. Ask everyone which group of shots they're more inclined to purchase. As a matter of widespread appeal, your selections might very well be the best fit. But maybe not.

John Camp says he would buy the Abdul Shaheeb if Ctein printed it which prompted me to wonder if Ctein would want to print it. From my own observation and other comments it is difficult even as a backlit display on the computer screen. I suspect it would be extremely difficult to print.

Jim Bullard,
Oh, either of us could PRINT it. The issue would actually be the level of illumination used by the final purchaser. My sister-in-law had trouble placing her purchase of one of Ctein's dye transfers because the spot she wanted to put it was too dark--the print lost separation in the shadows. Ken Tanaka's big print of his Chicago shoreline during the storm is too dark for my house--I put it in the brightest spot I could find but it doesn't work. There's nowhere I can put it that I don't lose the shadows and even the color in the shadows. I mean to get a spotlight for it, but it will be expensive and I haven't yet.

A print like Abdul's, that depends on subtle shadow separation, is very dependent on viewing lighting. Ctein or I could print it confidently if we knew the display illumination level we were working with, but without that knowledge, we'd likely go for an average and it might or might not work.


So, what was your #1 favorite shot, Mike? We've all shown ours ;)

Many thanks ,Mike, for posting my photo and for your encouraging and beautifully written comments. Thanks also to all the others who commented for your kind and supportive words.

Thanks a lot for mentioning my photo here. I prefer the company to one In the previous post, although I realise this lacks the potential "prize". Still, since several people mentioned here they might buy this print, I wanted to let them know (as long as it is within comment policy, which I hope it is) that it is quite possible, for this, as well as any other photo of mine. I use an epson 3800 and tecco pfr paper (or bti if you prefer semiglossy to matt). please contact me at [email protected] if interested.

Dear Ed,

There are only two small problems with that idea. The first is that I don't particularly enjoy judging photo competitions. The second is that past data argues that a sale that I curated would not make as much money as one that Mike curated. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln…

That aside, I can tell you what my predilections are. The biggest is something that I haven't seen (a lot of) before. That can either be subject matter/composition that seems fresh to me, or it can be a clichéd subject that is done so fabulously well that it stands out above others I've seen. In other words, I tend to get attracted to novelty. Then I get attracted to craft; meticulous pushes my buttons. And then there are just some subject matters that speak to my heart more than others. European urban, small children, and “girlie photos” don't connect with me as strongly, so those kind of photos have to be LOTS better before I even notice them.

And trust me, if I'm having to judge 600 photographs, getting noticed is the name of the game.


Dear Jim,

I'm with Mike on this one. John Camp was flattering me, but there are many people who could print this photograph successfully. Mind you, we would all interpret it differently. There are lots of aesthetic decisions that would have to be made on the spot by looking at prints, and they would all be arbitrary. Some photographs I have a strong sense that there is only one right way to print them, and that may be difficult to achieve. This photograph feels much more fungible to me.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Let me preface this by saying how honored I am for being featured here and for everyone's feedback. I understand that some are frustrated about not being able to see the photo clearly and that it is too dark. It is. Online at least! Typepad has compressed it and crushed the subtle dark tones to black, unfortunately. I don’t really know the solution to that. In fact, and maybe unfortunately, maybe the photo some are seeing is sufficiently different from the way I intended it to be shown, that you wouldn’t like the original!

And I also lied (I am sorry, Mike). I haven’t printed this photo (or any other of mine that I have taken since I got into photography three years ago, bad bad bad, I know). I will print it, however, and see how it fares. Then I will attempt to learn how to print it properly.

@Mike: I love this website and all that it has done for me. The latest being: I’ve realized that my work is quite pedestrian in the sense of being print-worthy. The other 10 photos I have taken since getting into photography, while pretty, are in my opinion fairly pedestrian when it comes to having the qualities required for being hung on anyone’s wall. I would want the print to say something about the owner, I would want observers to question it, be curious about it, to spark a discussion perhaps. For the most part, photos of nature don’t evoke that in me (which is practically most of my other photos). It’s a refreshing perspective I have gained through this, ahem, contest.


Any chance the top 3-4 of this group could become the Round 2 Finalist group so we can have the opportunity to purchase prints from this set?

The Bill Hanson, Michael Fioritto, and Luka Knezevic-Strika shots have arguably been received just as warmly as the 5 finalists from Round 1, and would generate as many sales if for no other reason than the people passionately chiming in with comments in this post would be a motivated group of buyers.

I greatly prefer these to the semifinalists.

I am another fan of the Bill Hanson photo. I would be thrilled to own and hang that image, which at first glance evoked Edward Hopper. That photo looks so much like a painting at first and just begs you to keep looking. It's unsettling and peaceful at once - unsettling as I try to figure out the medium, then as I try to figure out what is real and what is reflected (hmmm...sounds like life) - and peaceful in its quiet stasis. I would love to see more of his work.

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