Evaluating and Rating Personal Work

February 01, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

These days I find myself thinking quite a bit about my personal photographic style. I am going through my archive, evaluating and rating my previous work. This very quickly leads to questions like, who am I? Why do I gravitate towards a specific look? What common elements are present in all the subjects I photograph? These questions are valid to ask of my personal work.

As I have gotten older, I've narrowed my focus. I want a clearer image identity. How I produce an image has much to do with style identification even with differing subjects. When I am looking through the viewfinder, part of the process is finding subject elements to eliminate from the image. I ask myself how much can be removed without loosing the shot? Along with this decision things like angle and distance become part of in camera editing. The final image begins to take shape, and I visualize the finished image. My successful images have a lot in common. They have good strong composition, clarity, and express my emotional response to the subject. Good technique is important, however I believe it is also necessary to open a door to the heart. I want my feelings included in the image. I am aware that everyone responds differently to images, and that is fine. This work that I classify as personal is reflective of my emotions and reaction to what is in the viewfinder. My process does not end with the camera. There are wonderful tools available for post processing images. These tools add to the control I have in my creative process. The image that I visualized back at the shooting site comes to life in the post processing phase of image making. Successful photographers all have work that they elevate to a special category known as their best work. This top tier of work becomes defining. Often when editing we look for images that have similar defining characteristics. This is how a personal style comes into being and takes shape. This process has more to do with the creative process and less to do with choice of subject. A photographer with a well developed style can be recognized even when choosing differing subjects. Every once in a while someone will see and react to my work in a way that tells me they've understood my point of view. That is a very rewarding moment. As wonderful as that moment is, I like to move past it quickly. It is seductive to start thinking about shooting for a desired reaction. The work I make public on this portfolio site is very personal. I do not want to loose the connection with my inner self that drives my creative process.

My style, reputation, and how people think of my work is reflective of the tip of my creative "iceberg". Like an iceberg, most is out of sight. The work I choose to show and make public defines my creative self, as does the work I choose not to show. The flow of life is constant much like a river, and change is always with us. Within this flow I place a frame around significant compositions. There is always a subtext, always a back story, always the work is autobiographical. When someone falls in love with an image, and can see beyond the surface into a deeper meaning, that is a wonderful moment. It is energizing and inspiring. Every now and then it happens, someone "gets it". My inner drive toward the next image comes from a deeper part of me. When I am successful at shutting out the noise and clutter of an average day I can access that place within me. I have, by now, developed good habits to tap into that place. While I value constructive evaluation of my work, and all are free to form their own opinion, the most important critic I have to please is myself. If I am working on an assignment for a client, then I challenge myself to make them happy while keeping my image identity up front and obvious. You can view a representative sample of my work in the galleries on this site. My hope is that you will carve out a small block of time where you can sit uninterrupted, and look beyond the surface into a deeper understanding.


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