Monday, 13 October 2014

Managing Photographs: Making Choices

There are three decisions to make in this process: culling the boring and just plain bad shots; doing stuff to turn the maybes into definites; and then displaying the stuff I keep.

Some photographs - like this one - are just great on their own. Others need a little context: this one

works better if you know it was taken from St Pauls, and that the Shard is about a mile away. Then there's the photo-essay, which has more or less disappeared from print, but still exists on the internet, and back when Colin Sokol was her photographer, Rumi Neely used to do things like this. The point of an essay is that the overall effect is greater than the sum of the parts: the parts are good-but-not-striking-or-memorable images, and together they make up something memorable. A photo-essay has a narrative structure - even if it is borrowed from a Georges Perec novel. Each image should follow from or contrast with the ones before. The worst kind of photo-essay, or photographer's book, is one that has a series of similar shots. You know: face, face, face; wasteland, wasteland, wasteland; bridge, bridge, bridge; crowd, crowd, crowd. Repetition only works where there's a certain amont of fetishism involved, as in: Ferrari, Ferrari, Ferrari; Mica Arganaraz, Mica Arganaraz, Mica Arganaraz; sunset, sunset, sunset.

(Not a Ferrari or a sunset)

When we are taking snaps for ourselves, rather than for clients or projects for publication, it's of an event, or place, or journey. There's a built-in narrative, even if it’s a walk round a part of a city. So one thing that guides the final selection process is the narrative that we make from the photographs. Another is keeping images that fit into a longer-term project (I'm doing signs on buildings at the moment).

So I am going to keep everything but the clunkers in an archive is that I might devise new projects or themes, and can start by raiding the past. This helps me understand how to organise my photographs. I photograph places and so that will do for a directory structure. Themes can be handled with tags.

Finally, there’s the presentation issue. I’m not a pro, I’m not going to find a publisher for a book, and any thoughts of gallery or exhibition are out of the question. I don’t do the kind of photographs that photography club types do, and anyway I’m not a joiner. So it’s going to be the blog. And the Picasa album that Blogger uses to store pictures in my blogs.


  1. I've been reading your blog since the summer. I really appreciate reading someone with similar but different experiences and views.