Saturday, July 17, 2010

How do you judge your BEST Photographs?

And They are Off

For some time I have had a work list item that reminds me to look critically at my gallery of photographs and determine the top 50 photographs among the tens of thousands I have made.  This is a daunting task.  None the less, I am finally committing myself to do just that.

Fortunately, I do not have to sort through tens of thousands of photographs to make these decisions.  For each photography event, I sort and post process only the most appealing photographs.  In general, this amounts to somewhere between 10 and 20% of the total shots.  However, over the last seven years of the period I would consider I have taken photography as a serious pursuit (and used a digital SLR) this group of photographs still amounts to roughly 2500 photographs.  My challenge now becomes that of discerning the best 50 photographs of those 2500.  In other words, I must select just 2% of the 2500 photographs I have judged worthy of adding to my permanent gallery and worthy of printing.

Angle Falls - 6

This is a difficult task.  It is complicated because I am unable to establish firm criteria by which to select these photographs.  Ultimately it is a very subjective process.  Certainly, I could apply technical criteria such as composition, subject, clarity and sharpness, the story within the photograph, uniqueness, etc.  That would be a somewhat scientific approach to art – a marriage that can be troublesome.  Also, with each of the photographs, I have a memory of the event or occasion.  This undoubtedly introduces a bias to the process of selection whether good or bad.  In other words, my fond memory may not translate into something of meaning to the viewer.

DCF 1.0

Understanding this is an imprecise endeavor, I decided to review my gallery and select those photographs that made an instant impact.  I am only shortly into the process and as I suspected, I am already well over my target of 50 photographs.  After this initial pass, I will need to refine the selection process until I finally discriminate to a level that leaves me with the final 50.

I would also like to note, particularly for those of you considering a similar exercise, that this process supersedes projects and collections.  In other words, I have a number of completed and ongoing projects that group photography by a specific theme.  These photographs have cumulative meaning in the representation of that theme.  This process of selecting the top 50 breaks those group barriers.

Barn in the Fog-Edit

The photographs featured in this post are some of the preliminary selections.  Some may make the final 50.  It is possible that none will make the cut.  I am finding this a fun and challenging process.  I will let you know how it goes.

Have fun, and go make some great photography.


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