Jun 29, 2012

On Phases and Postings

There are different phases of being a photographer and different philosophies on which photos you choose to share. One of the things that I am coming to realize and learn lately is that the number of comments you receive on a post or the number of "likes" a photo receives on Facebook will have very little lasting value. It is not that they are not appreciated but what is of greater value is a solicited critique from someone who knows what they're talking about and being aware of your growth and development of the craft of photography.

That is what I am learning about the phase I am in or transitioning to in my work. A lot of photographers believe that you must only post your absolute best photos. When they say this they mean not just in your portfolio but absolutely everywhere. Without question I take far fewer keepers than the photos that get discarded. This is the case of any serious, working, photographer. Sorry to reveal the magician's secret but that is the way it is. Like beginning to carve a piece of wood or creating a sculpture, it requires shaping and work until it looks exactly the way the artist wants it to look. Interestingly enough, when I first started, I found that my first few photos of a particular thing or scene were the keepers. Now, almost every time, I find that it is the last few that are the best. I shoot until it looks either the way I envisioned it or a satsfactory result of the scene as it develops as I work.

The only exception to that is if you are working with a subject that loses attractiveness over time. This could be a person who is tired of smiling, is getting cold or to warm, or restless. It could also include food that is losing steam or glistening. Flowers with fast fading morning dew or a dog growing restless of sitting in the same spot and of the flashes going off all around are additional examples.

Where I stand on the question of what to post, at this point in time, is that I want to include only the best photos in my portfolio. However, I have created sets of photos that include all of what I consider a "keeper" even if it is not the best photo that I have made to date. I view this as an opportunity to monitor and display my own progress over time as well as present what I am able to consistently produce. A portfolio should be a limited number of photos and there is a great likelihood that a family photo shoot will result in some excellent photos but if every time the shutter snaps a client thinks that it is going to be a masterpiece they are wrong. What they should be able to expect is a consistent quality of work being posted which should assure any potential clients that you will get a good and reliable body of work from us if you so choose to hire us. This flow of quality photos can also be seen in regular posts right here.

Do I go overboard with the number of similar photos in some posts? Possibly. The last post with the dogs contained three similar photos of Tuffy. But that included two landscape oriented photos where he was laying down into different, and both cute, positions. In addition to that there was a portrait oriented photo of him standing up on the armrest of the couch. If these were examples to provide to the client I would like them to have the option to purchase their favorite which includes a variety of orientations.

Perhaps one day I will feel advanced enough to limit anything I share to only be absolute best. At the moment I'm happy to provide options and variety. I know that this can cause a viewer to approach it as eye candy. That is, a quick glance at the photo without really viewing it because there are more to come.

For certain I have purged a number of photos from my collection because, even though they were popular and significant print sellers in the past, they just do not meet my standards. For whatever reason, sometimes unbeknownst to me, they were great sellers but now do not meet the quality that I demand of what I am willing to place my name on. I am going to try to make it a biannual event to go through those albums and remove the below par photos that I have not seen for a while and have a fresh and objective view on. There are some that I put significant work into that did not receive the response I had hoped. Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes a significant effort does not produce results you hope for. I'm sure this is true for any craft.

Growth and consistency in cooperation with a portfolio of the best are what I feel present the real picture.

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