THE PHOTOGRAPHER/CURATOR AS CRITIC


I have just finished reading an entry on The Online Photographer where Mike Johnston discusses the possibility of winnowing 70 to 80 thousand negatives down to the best 50 or 60 for a portfolio. It is a mind-boggling task.

I haven’t that many but there’s probably 40 to 50,00o and I was thinking of doing much the same thing. Note the word thinking. I have curated shows and edited other photographer’s collections but when it comes to judging and being critical of my own work I have real problems.

For one thing, I am emotionally attached to many of the images because of the circumstances surrounding the shoot or the creative freedom offered on some assignments or the fact that it was my first overseas shoot or it involves family or friends.

Being clinically critical in assessing the photographs also has its problems. There are many sheets of proofs that I have printed one or two frames from for a particular purpose and not even glanced at the rest. So I am discovering frames that deserve to be printed to evaluate properly.

Do I weed through the films and come out with the best 1,000, reduce that to 250, then to 100 then 50? I don’t know. All I do know is that it represents a staggering amount of work … and if I start I’d like to finish it, before I fall off the perch. For my own satisfaction. Not for posterity.

Any suggestions?

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