WHY NOT TO PRESENT IMAGES TWO WAYS
STRANGER San Diego, California
While exploring social media, I came across a post by a longtime, pro photographer with an image posted two ways - both in color and black and white - with the question posed for his audience:
"Which one do your prefer?"
"I'd prefer for you, the photographer, to be decisive and choose which one works best!” I wanted to holler back.
So, what's my issue?
When I see photographers present the same photograph multiple ways, I feel the message being sent is one of a couple things:
•This is simply a "product", so therefore I can show it in varied forms.
•I am not clear as to what my photographic vision is, or about what I aim to express and communicate with this image.
In either case, it’s a shame. I'd expect this from early-on-the-path photographers still discovering their personal vision, but I am increasingly shocked to see longtime established photographers presenting photographs both ways. Sadly, it is becoming more and more common. I don’t like it.
Any final presented piece of art is the result of a series of many decisions made by the artist. For the photographer, the decisions begin in-camera, then move on to editing and the culling process, later decisions are made in the digital or traditional darkroom, and finally decisions are made regarding the sharing and presentation. Any poor decision along the way can make the entire presentation fall apart. It is very important for the artist to recognize this. Be decisive and confidant with each decision made along the way, and realize that each decision holds equal importance. If you can’t be confidant with your decisions, then slow down and take your time with it. Re-approach it at a later time. Or, ditch it altogether. But, to ask the world for their input - it’s no good.
I have been selling art and photography to the public for years, and I can't begin to imagine what would become of the art if I asked everyone's opinion about what it should be. I am sure the responses would be as varied as those who were asked. They are not the artist. I am.
Even if you were to ask a panel of artists/photographers, their responses will all be just as varied. So, which answer do you go with? It isn't for others to determine what works best with your art.
I like to see artists being decisive with their art. I like to see Michael Kenna express decades worth of work with one format, captured with one style camera, and one print type, with one size presentation, and one structured edition. That's probably why he is regarded as a master. We can all learn from that.
Instead of asking the world what they think, we should ask ourselves what we think! How do I feel about this image? What am I trying to communicate? What do I look to express? How is this best expressed to the world?
By asking ourselves more questions about our own work and allowing our personal feelings that come from the heart to answer - not our thinking minds - then, we naturally go deeper into the work. In the stillness of the deeper waters, clarity comes. With clarity, art can be born and is a personal expression of the artist.