This choosing thing is hard because, most of the time, when I look at any one of my pictures I posted, I fall in love with it all over again. Yes, I love almost all my photos I keep and post. I do. Whether they are well received or not, I love almost all of them. That is why, to paraphrase Imogen Cunningham's famous photography quote, my favorite picture is the one I will take tomorrow. That said, I would gladly put almost anyone of my pictures on my walls. Yes, I know, sounds conceited, but I think I am a pretty good photographer. At least, tonight I think I am.
Maybe. No, yes. I am.
Kinda. No. Oy.
(getting off this hamster wheel)
for many reasons, I love this photograph, reblogged by Lensblr.
In part, I love it because the night I took this picture I went to see one of my former colleagues perform spoken word. She was amazing and I got to see a couple of my former students who are friends of hers. Then, there was the actual photographing. Standing in front of the theater, taking about twenty pictures of the different color changes, trying to capture “the right one,” but not knowing what “the right one” was, what it looked like, was so much fucking fun. Luckily, I got the one shot I really like. I love the quasi-complementary color play between the bright green neon and the reddish orange light on the Deco mural, especially since that light blends from a yellow green close to the vertical (light saber?) green neon to an almost red-orange in the darkest edges. Then there are the reds on the mural itself, made vibrant by the orange light.
During editing, while going through the multiple shots, I realized I was “lucky” and that if none of the pictures were any good I would be heartbroken (I ain’t gonna lie), but, I distinctly recall this was the first time I started to feel OK with the idea of not having any useable images from a shoot, a valuable lesson I am still learning. It was during editing/post for this shoot that I started to refine my editing process to weed out more of the shit not good enough shots and post only what I believed was good. It was during this editing process that I started to seriously judge my work the same way I judge others’. As much as possible, I detached myself from the context of the shoot, from my being there and from my feelings for the experience. That detachment, something I am still refining, lets me see, feel the experience as each photo conveys it. Or not.
Now there is one thing I know for sure, and no, I am not complaining, I am comparing as objectively as possible. I am not a professional (or sometimes amateur) photographer who has everything set up, who creates the perfect conditions and then shoots. I am a photographer who almost always captures spontaneous moments. And the kicker is, the professional will get some good images, on average per shot probably more than I will, but both of us will also shoot shit bad pictures during our session, so it is all okay. The professional may have an advantage, but in the end, it is all about editing, tweaking, and getting “the right one.” The difference may be that the professional often goes in with some idea of what “the right one” looks like, but if you ask him or her, she or he will reveal, if they are honest, that the original concept was not quite “right” after all. He or she often discovers “the right one” during the editing/post process. So really, all of us who take pictures are pretty much on a level conceptual playing field. And this level playing field includes those photographers who adhere to the “pristine principle,” those who only publish pictures untouched in post. They also go through the editing process, sifting through the shit images that are not so good, to find, you guessed it, “the right one.”
So, yes, I am happy with the pictures I keep/post. Most of them. Kinda.
Focus. (No pun intended.)
By the way, here are the other pictures that were close contenders, some of which got less love than I expected. But you know what, although the lack of love hurts a bit (I ain’t about to start lying now), I still am enamored with these other:
This is a shot featured by Lux Lit. I love the composition, the light, the tones. This is also the one picture I reworked the most.
Not a pretty subject, so I get why this photo got less love than I expected, but the light, tones, textures, and composition in this one give me goosebumps. I cannot believe I took this photo.
This is simply about two people in love. This shot tells their story of playful, still youthful love. The kind of love I want for myself. It also tells the story of how cold and windy it was on top of Twin Peaks that night. It tells the story of two Cubans trying to stay warm.
One from last year that I converted to B&W and posted this year. I think of all my flower shots, many of which are solid, this one is by far the most beautiful. At least for now. There is a full spectrum of B&W tonalities, of light and dark that takes my breath away. Again, I cannot believe I took this photograph.
Yes, I was very happy that another one from this shoot was reblogged by SFMOMA, but honestly, I love this one more, because of the sharpness of all those little flags, the linearity of this image, dense with the chaos of grass and stars and stripes, light and dark and shadows. Again, I look at these pictures and cannot believe I took them, that I created these images.
Overall, this year was amazing for me, as a photographer.
I was honored, blessed to have my photography recognized, featured by several different venues. I entered my first photo contest for a site called Botanicality. The great photographer paddym01 I won. Later I did win 2nd place, in 1 of 4 categories, in a local Davis photography contest. Two of my photos were featured on Tumblr Radar. I got about 8 Lensblr reblogs. Lux Lit reblogged a few of my pictures, Grey Card reblogged one. And I was honored that the SF MOMA Tunblr reblogged 2 of my pics, including the one that was stolen that I selected here as one of my favorites.
As an added bonus, this year I became involved in the process of promoting other original Tumblr photographers’ work. I started as one of the Lensblr volunteer staff in March and was asked to be one of the Lensblr assistant editors in June. I also worked with Ted and Shana over at Lux Lit for a bit to help reconfigure it, mostly doing some rewrites and editing of the site’s descriptions and instructions, but also as one of the rebloggers of others’ photos.
Overall, this year was amazing for me, as a person.
Finally, the most significant thing about this year, though, is the great, ongoing relationships I started with my steadies, my Tumblr followers who are part of a small community of supportive, supernaturally talented, original photographers. Not only do we share insights and support about our photography, inspiring each other by posting great photography and by giving, at times, mush needed positive feedback, but we also often share bits of out lives, and therefore of our selves. This, of all I accomplished as a photographer in 2013, is what I cherish most, because this is about the human me, the human us. My steadies presence in my life is priceless.
Anyway, have a wonderful year. Hopefully, no more introspection until the end of next year.