Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Judge Thyself! (updated)...


I could never understand photographers who state that they can't edit their own work, can't pick out their own best pictures. Do they actually mean that they need someone to tell them what their best work is, that they really have no clue how to tell the rejects  from the stand outs that they themselves created? I can understand needing a certain amount of time to pass before being able to judge in a more critical, less emotional manner. That makes sense, but being clueless?

I'm fairly critical about anything and everything, especially my own work- and 99 times out of hundred, I only need a second or two to tell what does and doesn't make the grade.  So it's rather frustrating when I do get stumped by the rare fence sitter. Take this August Sanders redux for example- I just don't know. Love the guy, really love the backdrop- but... I just don't know if it comes off as a whole. I think maybe it's because the the guy is kinda smiling, and I'm really not a happy face portrait kinda guy. Now if he had an "I'm gonna kick your MFing ass right now, MF" scowl on his face, I probably wouldn't be here pondering. I guess optimism doesn't sit well with me. But wasn't one of the things that made me want to photograph the guy in the first place the very fact that he seemed such a gentle bear of a giant? So, close as it may be, is the crucial "magical" ingredient just not there, or is what I'm second guessing here, not the photograph itself- but some, errr... personal insecurity? An actual high resolution print to have and hold, sure wouldn't hurt, but I feel this goes beyond even that.

I really need an extra hand here- this is where time will definitely have to play its role.

UPDATE: Dollars to donuts- this same photo taken in medium to large format color & blown up to mural size- instant 21st century, museum wall worthiness. No questions asked- maybe even (dare I say it)... Flak Photo worthy!

7 comments:

Gerald said...

You may see them as winners or losers but the viewers might have a competely different take on them. I understand that most exhibiting photographers will have others help them choose their images for exhibitions and books and even go as far as to hire a photo editor. Personally when I show my photos the ones I like the best are invariably the least favourites of others. We may have a solid idea of what the photo represents but it doesn't mean that it will translate to others. I also know that when we become transfixed on one aspect of our photos that we tend to not see other factors that work against it. Personally I think the background is too distracting to zero in on him. He becomes less large and significant in front of such a large window. He's actually contained within the window frame. So I don't see it as being August Sander-like since he would've been much closer and kept the background.....well, in the backround. For me the biggest problem is that there seems to be some indecision on your part as to what is more important - him or the background. Also for portraits the face is still the most important aspect and he's too far from the camera to really capture his expression. Having said that, I do like it from purely graphic POV.

Z. Constantine said...

Maybe I'm reading too much into it (and your stated reaction) but what really pulls the shot together for me is the fact that this man is complacent - even secure - in guarding his own agonizing little slice of strip mall hell.

Stan B. said...

That looks about right... Jeez, Z- that might even describe me at my job. You're not making things any easier!

Mark Page said...

Stan, it's not going to live alone is it? I need to let pictures 'sit' as you say and sit amounst others to see if they can become friends. Sorry still reading them bloody Japanese photo book thingy's.... I like his Tshirt hanging below his uniform and the fact that he's not at his 'fighting weight' He could be a poster boy for security guards the world over.

Stan B. said...

Mark- I think this guy's a definite cut above.

And yeah, he's gonna have to tuff it out on his lonesome- it's sink or swim in this cold cruel world.

But as Z alluded to, all seems well on his handy checklist.

Mark Page said...

Stan I've sent that many pics to Flak all to no avail. I'm going to start sendig in other peoples soon for a laugh.

Stan B. said...

There are definite Flak rules, Mark:

No 35mm (color or B&W)- in fact, pretty much skip the 1x1 1/2 format altogether.

Medium format and up, preferably color (very rare Holga exceptions).

And oh, yes- no street stuff, please (unless it happens to be from the current Street Photo Now book they are most actively promoting).