Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's all about the photo...that's it

It's all about the single photograph in the end, whether it's from a well planned project or a shot that just happened, only the singular image will remain. When I see a photo hung on a wall I don't ask myself " was this part of a series?", "what was in the frame before or after?", I don't demand to see the contact sheet. I look at the photograph and appreciate it for what it is.

It's hard to decide what "the shot" is and it's especially hard in today's digital world to toss away the rest when "the shot" is selected. I can understand holding onto various photos from a shoot with the idea of possibly compositing them together, "I like her arm her but her expression is wrong," etc., but after all that is it worth keeping the rest?

I constantly go through my hard drives looking through catalogs of photos weeding out the duds. I hope others do the same, I can only imagine in ten or twenty years we'll start to see retrospectives where we get to troll through a photographers hard-drive to view the detritus of his or her career. It may prove insightful to some but in the end, is it not the final image that will stay with us?

One of the reasons I love film is it automatically makes you edit your work, to look for the shot in the roll or rolls of film and print it. Sure, you could do all of them and today, scan all of them, but it's time consuming and there's something about film that just let's you know you found the one. Maybe it's because I know I have the neg and can go back at any time if I change my mind. Maybe it's because, unlike digital, I did not take a gazillion shots and can easily find the best in the meager selection.

The photo above is "the shot" from a roll of film I just developed. I was experimenting with pushing some old FujiFilm Pro 400H to 800, shooting a bunch of random stuff over a few days. On this particular day I was waiting for a bus in the rain on my way to a Marilyn Minter artist's talk downtown. There was something about the way Josie was holding her umbrella, the droplets formin on the top and the light that just screamed out "get out your camera and shot this". I pulled it out, waited for the right moment and took two shots just before our bus arrived. I shot wide open and aimed for the top of the umbrella so the droplets would be in sharp focus.

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