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06-22-2018, 05:31 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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How do you select photos?

As a general rule, when it comes to selecting from my own pictures, I've noticed that I tend to select differently from what other choose. I never enter serious competitions, I'm mostly talking about choosing which photos to print, or to post in various weekly or thematic threads here on pf, or elsewhere online.

My selection/editing process is to either:
- get excited about a recent photo. this is somewhat balanced with film because I'm more detached from the moment of capture, the excitement is just seeing them developed and scanned;
- have one in mind from a while ago, something that I remember distinctly. these are usually the ones only I like;
- go through my gallery and try to narrow down my selection with successively smaller pools, but this relies on having a cleanly tagged library which sometimes isn't the case.

I'm wondering how others select photos, what is your method?

06-22-2018, 06:23 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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#1 always, do I like it? if I don't, chances are nobody else does
#2 Sharpness/fidelity
06-22-2018, 06:29 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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To me this is where looking at and being able to examine art comes in.

Sometimes the day after you take a shot isn't the best time. Sometimes seeing it a month later helps but not always.

What is the subject? How is the lighting? What about composition?

I tend to try and pick based on these and other artistic based principles.
06-22-2018, 06:44 PM - 4 Likes   #4
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Has the photo been done 1000 times before? If yes I try to find some way to make my photo unique.

For example, the Empire State Building in NYC is an iconic building. It's probably been photographed over 1 million times by tourists. I woke up in the middle of the night to get a semi-original version of it:


06-22-2018, 11:55 PM - 1 Like   #5
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The issue to me is: how much the subject matter influences the picture.
We've all been through this, I think... the first [something] picture, it could be a bird, a butterfly, a roe... the more it's elusive, the more the photo feels precious, in spite of composition, other technical aspects etc.
Then we take another, and another, we see other people's photos etc.: the "intrinsic" value given by the subject starts to fade.
Surely a photo of a rare elusive wild animal taken in its habitat has some value on its own, but what if the same photo is taken of the same animal in captivity?
How many times you've see a photo of, I don't know, an Ara Macao, thought of forests and liberty and then read the caption "XY City Zoo"?

You could do an award-winning photo of the kitchen sink just by perfecting composition and trying an unusual, geometrically interesting viewpoint, and yet there are some street photos that while lacking on many levels are just fantastic.

I think it's a fine balance, and sometimes it's very difficult to say why a photo is good or bad.
06-23-2018, 08:27 AM - 2 Likes   #6
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Another thing I do is when I screw up landscape shots I just put it in some online forums and tell them it's a picture of bigfoot. Bam! 1.2 million shares overnight.


In the end it all depends on the subject matter and nature of the shot. But like I said before I usually start with the artistic stuff. After that I look for something unique that just pops out. For example I was taking pictures of a friend's 3 year old and for whatever reason the kid got amused and started laughing and her personality just naturally came out. It was pure.


Although a lot of the other shots were technically good too, as soon as I saw it I was like 'that's the one!'. Not unsurprisingly when I showed the selections from the series to her parents without batting an eye they lit up and asked (or rather said) "How much to get that one printed? We want it on a canvas about this big" while holding up their hands.


For me I try to get not only a good picture but a good story. Sometimes the story pictures are not appreciated as much until much later or until you run across someone who understands the subject matter.


Some pictures while technically impeccable are also stale. It just depends.
06-23-2018, 12:40 PM - 2 Likes   #7
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I look to them one by one.

First I try to find the ones that click to me - the “the moment” ones when taking “candids” per example…
From these, I choose the ones who are technically better - sharp is a must, composition is a must too…
The rest I dump.

Normally, I can shoot 100 to 300 photos in a session and it’s not uncommon to keep just 2 or 3.

If I have a clicking and sharp photo but missing on the other technical points, sometimes I go the extra mile to try to salvage it… thus the importance, nowadays, to be at ease with post processing (spending the extra time to learn the raw processing software one uses).
06-23-2018, 02:02 PM   #8
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We can say that what we do is "art", but I don't think the photographic art community would agree. At the recent Contact photography festival in Toronto, all the exhibits came with "artist's statements" and "narratives" that usually include the term "post-colonial". Most of the time you wouldn't know what the artist is trying to say just by looking at the photos.
I don't know whether what I do is "art", but it's a form of creative expression.
With my wildlife photos, I try to catch the creature doing something interesting, reasonably well composed in good light. Hopefully I have produced something that establishes some sort of imagined connection between the creature and the viewer. When I'm choosing pics those aspects are part of the story, but just when you think you have done a good job you follow a tag on Flickr and find that several dozen people have done a better job at it than you have. I suppose I have chosen to limit myself by keeping things simple - portable but high quality gear, usually hand held, no flash. A lot of the satisfaction for me is the associations that come with the image - whether you have been able to get a shot of that species before, your memories of the place and the people you were with, how hard you had to work to get the image - these don't really come through in the image itself but I can't help it if they are also part of my selection process. It's similar for landscapes and other nature shots.
Then there's the occasional "experimental" shot that I post - usually met with a resounding silence! So I suppose that's as far as I go as an artist.


Last edited by jacamar; 06-23-2018 at 02:12 PM.
06-23-2018, 05:24 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I let my wife pick the ones she likes.
06-25-2018, 05:04 PM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by jacamar Quote
...the exhibits came with "artist's statements" and "narratives" that usually include the term "post-colonial". Most of the time you wouldn't know what the artist is trying to say just by looking at the photos...
You often can't tell what an "artist" is saying in an artist's statement, either
06-25-2018, 06:32 PM - 1 Like   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by jacamar Quote
We can say that what we do is "art", but I don't think the photographic art community would agree. At the recent Contact photography festival in Toronto, all the exhibits came with "artist's statements" and "narratives" that usually include the term "post-colonial". Most of the time you wouldn't know what the artist is trying to say just by looking at the photos.
How much actual art have you studied? There is WAY more to actual art than just 'that looks cool' or 'this is my expression'. Yes there are those people who do abstract self interpreted, self labeled stuff, but there is a whole lot more to it than that. Fortunately I have had several good people put me on the right path.


If I handed you a book like Huck Finn, or To Kill a Mockingbird, the Jungle Book, or Shakespeare, or Hemmingway, or any number of people you would be hard pressed to make a case that those literary works were not and are not extremely significant pieces of work for their day and even beyond. All of them are profound and have very deep meanings beyond the surface.


Likewise 'Art' is a window into the world and society of when it was created. The works of da Vinci and others all give keen insight into the thoughts and beliefs of the world at that time. It's way more than just 'cool picture dude'.


In a similar sense photographers who in my opinion truly go after the more meaningful stuff are absolutely artists in their own right. Not to mention the likes of Ansel Adams who probably has more photos hanging on walls in Dr's offices than anyone in history. There is a whole lot of ways to go about it. No one single correct answer.

A lot of the time it can also be 'time' that changes a photo from a picture to 'Art'. People have seen photos of the Eiffel Tower a million times. That said go look at some photos taken when they were building the Eiffel Tower. At the time it was like 'dude, that's neat looking but it's a picture of a bunch of construction workers' and probably was blown off as 'that's nothing'.


Fast forward in time though, and now those pictures have significant meaning, they tell a story, they have the lighting right, they have the composition right, and it just takes it to a whole new level.


There are a ton of principles of art that clearly carry over from the painting realm to the photography realm, particularly when you talk about stuff like perspective, balance, flow, how things are oriented in the image, and about 1000 other things.


I could care less what the majority thinks. The majority are not artists.
06-25-2018, 06:40 PM   #12
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By the way, see my tag line.
06-26-2018, 05:25 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
How much actual art have you studied?
You seem to be assuming a good deal. I may not have been whipped into shape at art school but I do take an interest in what makes a good image. Lots of books like "The Photographer's Eye" on my shelves, and in fact I have just finished the Walter Isaacson biography of Leonardo. It's clear that much of the art you reference was intended for popular enjoyment at the time and doesn't (or didn't) require an art or literature degree to be enjoyed on at least some level. I found a lot of the photography at the "Contact" photography festival interesting in the context of the "narrative" (I did take the trouble to go out and see some of it), but many of the images were not exactly arresting as images in themselves - and if they were that wasn't really the point of what the artist was trying to do. In some cases I had the feeling that photography was being appropriated to present a very politicized view of the world.
Now I'll slink back to my birds and butterflies and just leave you to it.
06-26-2018, 05:29 AM   #14
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I have close to a thousand images taken over 10 years on memory stick plugged into my 55 inch TV. During the winter or bad weather my wife and I sit and have beer, and maybe 25 grams of chips, at 4 o'clock and watch them go by. There's a spot for a 60 inch print on my wall. We have it down to maybe 5 candidates. The final decision is proving to be more difficult than we anticipated.

I also have a similar rotating display charging every 5 second on my desktop display. That runs probably 4-6 hours a day. When I walk away from the computer I shut down all the open windows so I can see the images while passing through. Since prints that big are expensive, we are taking our time. We'll probably be looking at it for a couple of years at least, once we make the decision.

Back in my craft show days, my rule was "don't print anything you don't want hanging on your wall, because it might not sell." Having a wife involved helps prevent personal idiosyncrasies from taking over. If new both agree it should be printed, it's probably pretty good.

Last edited by normhead; 06-26-2018 at 01:31 PM.
06-26-2018, 06:39 AM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by alamo5000 Quote
...I could care less what the majority thinks. The majority are not artists.
That sounds like something an artist would say. Another helpful accomplishment on the road to true art is to be misunderstood by others.
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