Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Why did he do it?

A couple of weeks ago I posted a blog reference to some photographer friends. This blog was 365 photographs, one a day, for a whole year. Yes I know that lots of people try to shoot a "picture a day" but this was different because the photographer was using a 8x10 camera.....big box camera that has to be on a tripod and have individual sheets of film loaded into it. And it was different because he was so focused (excuse the pun) on his subject matter, Shooting a stranger a day. So this meant he had to cart this camera setup, keep loaded film holders, and go out in the street everyday, spring, summer, fall and winter (in Chicago no less) and find someone to photograph. These are not candids, shot from the hip. There isn't any way you can hide an 8x10 camera. He had to have some interaction with the stranger. Not every photo was a keeper, still he took the time to make the photograph maybe in between business appointments or before he picked up the kids or after the dentist. Then he processed the film and put them in his blog, day after day, after day...for a year.

All in all, I'd guess he had about 25 really engaging photographs from this year. For those of you who aren't photographers this might seem like slim-pickings. But National Geographic photographers go on assignment with 100's and 100's of rolls of film and how many make it on the pages of the magazines.

Some of the friends that I shared this photographer's site with, said; he should have edited, edited, edited, maybe he didn't know the difference between what was good and what was bad, or maybe he was just focused on shooting an image a day and didn't care whether it was good or not.

Was this a fair criticism of his work? Actually this was more a criticism of HIM because he didn't edit. If he had only put up the 25 outstanding photographs, the same comments would not have been made. You know what, I think he knew he was opening himself to that kind of criticism when he started his daily photographic blog. All photographers know that all light situations are not good for photography, light leaks happen especially with large-format cameras, and the photo gods do not always smile on us. So I ask myself why he did it...letting the world see his failures, his so-so as well as his successful images. Was he looking for the discipline and pressure? What did he learn about photography, about his work, about himself by this disciplined approach for one year?


Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm sure the discipline was a major part of it. But, no, I'll make that a capital BUT, I see little purpose of "letting the world see his failures." Hell, I see enough of my own and those of my students and friends. The problem I have with those failures is that he doesn't seem to learn from them, therefore doomed to repeat them. Repeated failures are not to my liking....


ruhammy said...

I know that I am not alone when I say that, for me, editing is the hardest phase of the process. I fall in love with the moment when I made the picture, and it often clouds my critical eye. That is why a have a gillion negs and digital files! I do think that a tightly edited body of work is very exciting and inspirational.