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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Take more photographs, publish less.
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01/12/2012 04:18:17 PM · #1
Is this a way forward?

There's a quote by a Mr A Adams about twelve good pictures in a year being a good harvest (or something like that).

I admit I'm no photographer in the way that most DPC folks are, but only rarely does anything that I publish here really satisfy me. Much of what I publish is, on sober reflection, mediocre.

And yet I have noticed that those few pleasing images that I do produce nearly always happen during my occasional bursts of camera enthusiasm, when I am inspired to take more pictures than is usual for me. They come in clusters.

The question is, does that happen just because even a blind pig must find an occasional acorn (if he roots around enough), or does it happen because the act of taking lots of pictures makes you take a few genuinely better pictures?

Would I be more convincing would we all be more convincing if I (we) took more pictures, but were much more discriminating about what we decide to publish?

Message edited by author 2012-01-12 16:21:16.
01/12/2012 04:38:41 PM · #2
Originally posted by ubique:

...Would I be more convincing would we all be more convincing if I (we) took more pictures, but were much more discriminating about what we decide to publish?

Keep your resumé short, because the employer is only looking for a reason NOT to hire you. Surrounding a few great shots with volumes of trash is no good.
01/12/2012 04:39:14 PM · #3
Originally posted by ubique:

The question is, does that happen just because even a blind pig must find an occasional acorn (if he roots around enough), or does it happen because the act of taking lots of pictures makes you take a few genuinely better pictures?

I think both can and do happen ... something about chance favoring the prepared mind, or Jefferson's observation on good luck that "I find the more I work the more of it I have" ...

I think taking lots of pictures can make you try angles, compositions, or techniques you wouldn't otherwise -- that's why I think a common exercise is to take some large number of pictures of one subject.

However, any one "great" photograph may well have luck as a major component of its magic, whether a subject's expression, momentary incident (ring ceremony or car accident) or something like transient light (Galen Rowell's rainbow over the Tibetan Palace, though that might not be the best example considering what he went through to get the shot!).
01/12/2012 04:50:21 PM · #4
I guess it depends on what you think of what you published.
Is it a balloon propelling you towards something better or a ballast that, as time passes, you'll regret having attached to your profile?
Personally, I feel everything I do is a work in progress. Even the finished and closed images, for the good or the bad, give me something I'll use in the future. And I value comments a lot for that.

If I wished to post only images that I am proud and convinced of, I would have to resign posting none, full stop.

But you have a much more defined style to your photography, and more intention, so your feelings and needs are probably very different.
Still, I enjoyed many of your images, includind perhaps some that on second thought your might regreat havign posted, not sure.

As for shooting a lot, I do it all the time as for me is the equivalent of a personal diary. When I have very clear ideas, I could often walk off after the first shot as the rest will not had anyting. Other times, of many a few I will like.
Embarassingly, most of what I have photographed only got a cursory glance on my camera screen, when it did. It waits, getting bigger and bigger everyday, waiting for me to dig it out, the delusional bunch :D
01/12/2012 04:51:16 PM · #5
I'm not sure it is necessarily that most of the photos are bad I think it is more that there are shots that are the best, especially in a series and it would be better to post one or two great shots instead of 10-15 good shots. Look at most of the "new" photographers on facebook. They (I am making a generalization here of course) post 30-100 shots from a photo shoot. They don't sort through and pick the best shot to represent them but show everything, either because they do not know how to critique their work and know how to cut out photos or they believe the quantity makes up for the quality. If someone posts 50 new shots to an online album I am likely to become dulled by the repetitive nature of the majority of the shots and if they do happen to have a really good shot hidden in there, well I may not ever make it to that point or I may have become desensitized to their photos by the time a gem comes up.

Just my thoughts of course.
01/12/2012 04:57:09 PM · #6
Originally posted by Strikeslip:

Originally posted by ubique:

...Would I be more convincing would we all be more convincing if I (we) took more pictures, but were much more discriminating about what we decide to publish?

Keep your resumé short, because the employer is only looking for a reason NOT to hire you. Surrounding a few great shots with volumes of trash is no good.

Well, I'm certainly not looking for anybody to hire me, but in a wider context your point is a good one.

I went to a HCB exhibition of about 250 photographs, and recognized a dozen or so classics. But (sacrilege here, perhaps) there were many that were comparatively so-so. I was well impressed by the exhibition, but I might have been even more impressed had there been say 50 images instead of 250.
01/12/2012 04:57:22 PM · #7
Hmm....

Right now I'm barely touching my gear, instead I'm developing my taste for abstracts through painting... I'm hopeful that this will set the future tone and direction of my photography..
01/12/2012 05:25:51 PM · #8
Edit. Edit. Edit.
01/12/2012 05:39:24 PM · #9
I also can somewhat tell which are "keepers" by whether I fully-edit a printable image, whether I'm then willing to spend 30 cents or so on a couple of prints, or whether I'll really splurge on a buck-and-a-half 8x10 ... I expect a real problem a few years down the line being able to see any pictures on any of those shiny discs, even if the plastic itself lasts for a century ...
01/12/2012 06:57:26 PM · #10
Take as many frames as you feel necessary, then take a few more. If you feel like you are "wasting" digital space or that taking lots of pictures dilutes your experience, then try taking a faux-picture by just looking through the eyepiece and saying "click." For me, taking pictures is all about . . .well, taking the pictures. It is both exciting and meditative at the same time. Later, when looking through, I usually am not pleased with the results but I keep going because (1) it is the best ADHD therapy I have found yet and (2) some gems DO come through the murk and I delight in editing them to how I like. If it feels good to take a million pictures and post only a few, then by all means do so. If you want to wait for the "decisive moment" and won't press that shutter for anything less, that's fine, too. By all means, though, don't let your own humility condemn you to silence.
01/12/2012 07:02:23 PM · #11
Originally posted by ubique:

Originally posted by Strikeslip:

Originally posted by ubique:

...Would I be more convincing would we all be more convincing if I (we) took more pictures, but were much more discriminating about what we decide to publish?

Keep your resumé short, because the employer is only looking for a reason NOT to hire you. Surrounding a few great shots with volumes of trash is no good.

Well, I'm certainly not looking for anybody to hire me, but in a wider context your point is a good one.

I went to a HCB exhibition of about 250 photographs, and recognized a dozen or so classics. But (sacrilege here, perhaps) there were many that were comparatively so-so. I was well impressed by the exhibition, but I might have been even more impressed had there been say 50 images instead of 250.

I meant resumé as a simile to portfolio of photographs. As you point out, it can even apply to the HCB exhibition. I sincerely believe that by keeping the crap out of my portfolio it's given the effect that there is more perceived value to what is there. I'm a lucky, blind pig that loves finding random acorns! ;-D
01/12/2012 08:51:06 PM · #12
I think of my photographic 'skills' as a muscle. Taking photos exercises the muscle. Exercise makes the muscle stronger.

I'm not talking about the muscle that punches the shutter release. My camera and lens weigh 3-4 pounds but I'm not talking about the reps I get lifting it to my eye.

I'm talking about the mental muscle to see before I fire, to edit before i share.

Then ... by extension, the more I shoot, the more I exercise my photographic muscles.

But that's not enough ... I need to exercise outside my comfort zone ... experiment, attempt the 'low probability shots,' stretch myself with new subjects, new techniques, new ways of thinking and seeing.

That's why DPC has helped me.
01/12/2012 09:26:19 PM · #13
What an awesome question, Paul. I think the answer is different for everyone because we shoot for different reasons, have different goals, and different subject matter. I find that my fallow periods are farther apart these days, because I'm very excited by my learning process. When I do hit the doldrums, I tend to ride them out rather than push through them (unless I have a project I must complete). During those times my brain is processing everything it's learned and done during these times, and the images I've forced myself to shoot during those periods are miserable failures on every level.

I also tend to shoot "with purpose" (to use a phrase Leonard Nimoy said he learned from one of his teachers). Unless I'm shooting for a street challenge, I never walk around with my camera. It's just not the type of photography I'm drawn to these days. I also usually have a very clear idea of what my image will look like so it doesn't take very long for me to get there. It's a bit like hand/eye coordination exercises. The more I do it, the faster I can create the image I'm visualizing. I then spend the time observing my subject/s and hoping to get them in interesting (and/or compromising) moments :-)

During my sessions, I shoot an average of 65 images, and almost never over 100. Of these I will cull 1-5 images, and of those, possibly post 1 or 2. I've done shoots where I sent the subject a couple of images but never posted any because I didn't think they turned out as desired. I have also noticed that although I may be pleased with an image at the time, as I continue to grow and learn, I look back at those once-acceptable images and can't believe I ever thought they were THAT good.
01/12/2012 09:41:02 PM · #14
I tend to work a subject from many angles, some only slightly different. For instance, if I go to one of my typical places like the Stockyards, I may shoot several hundred pics, many of them working the same subject. I usually keep 25-30% of those as having potential, and post maybe 6-10 on Flickr or DPC. If I'm lucky, one of them may take a place among my faves.

So, yes, many mediocre shots to eventually get a handful of really good ones.
01/12/2012 10:37:50 PM · #15
Originally posted by ubique:

I went to a HCB exhibition of about 250 photographs, and recognized a dozen or so classics. But (sacrilege here, perhaps) there were many that were comparatively so-so. I was well impressed by the exhibition, but I might have been even more impressed had there been say 50 images instead of 250.


Wouldn't 250 do a better job of correcting the flaws in the viewer's eye sight? It seems like you're searching for perfection.
01/12/2012 11:28:30 PM · #16
Originally posted by ubique:



I admit I'm no photographer in the way that most DPC folks are, but only rarely does anything that I publish here really satisfy me.

And yet I have noticed that those few pleasing images that I do produce nearly always happen during my occasional bursts of camera enthusiasm, when I am inspired to take more pictures than is usual for me. They come in clusters.

...we all be more convincing if I (we) took more pictures, but were much more discriminating about what we decide to publish?


Paul, I edited your initial post for my benefit.
Your musing is probably more typical of a writer. Chapeau! Agree on all accounts BUT ....
The makers of palpable images (and I include photography because for me a photograph is a printed thing) turn them like pies, sometimes with years of sweat and blood, show them or let them be seen and occasionally destroy them. (Rouault was notorious for breaking at night in the houses of people who bought his painting and borrowing for a while to "improve" of them. Was caught by the police in the process.)
The idea of a retrospective is fairly new.
HCB probably would have edited his show, de Kooning also, but these retrospectives are for us and we generally look at them in a reverential way with the aim of getting under the artist's skin. Vermeer never saw all 34 painting that we presume to be his, in the same room. He never evaluated his whole oeuvre to know that one painting was better than the other. Georges de la Tour painted 2 Penitent Magdalens, 2 St. Jeromes ... Rembrandt hated almost all of the portraits ...

As to us, we participate here exactly to produce as many pictures as we can, on a given theme and one free study a month. We do have the side challenges where we can "express" ourselves freely. Therefore, the point that you made earlier, on the silliness of considering an image DNMC seems contrary to our goal here. This is not an artists' site, but a little school.
I am all for being cerebral and not posting a silly picture only because it represents exactly the challenge. But we "judge" a photo from a lot of points of view, akin being in school.

I think that I rambled too much and the short answer is: yes, let's be as selective at this site as much as we can ... within a week! The point here is to practice.
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