Keepers

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by bmac, Sep 30, 2004.

  1. bmac

    bmac Member

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    "Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop." Ansel Adams

    I've been thinking about this today. My productivity in the past 2 years has slowed down considerably, but at the same time, my ratio of keepers to rubbish has increased dramatically. I atrbute this to a couple of things, 1) getting out of the 35mm mindset, 2) Not having much time to shoot, I have to plan my outings a lot better.

    I feel that only history will tell if any of my keepers are "significant".

    How do you define a "keeper"?
    What is a "significant" photograph?
    How many of each have you created this year?

    Brian
     
  2. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    Anything I like is a "keeper". Sometimes later I wonder why I kept some of those keepers. The others are "significant".
     
  3. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I don't know how I define a "keeper". The closest I can come: "I will want to keep it". Not really an answer, I guess ... but that is the way it works.

    A "significant" photograph ... ? I think they are ALL "significant", to me. What makes them "significant" to others?" I wish I could answer that in three words or less.... but, last time I looked I was still a human being. Are human beings expected, or capable of, understanding their "significance" or lack of it, to others"?

    One parameter that might apply in both cases ... It is a "kick" to produce something that will re-create the emotion I feel when I take the photograph in someone else.... a bright spark in the process ... but it is not my sole - or even a "major" part of my raison d'etre.

    How many of each/ either have I produced this year? I don't know. It is too early to tell. If I extrapolate from previous experience, I'll find many more than I thought I had, three or four years from the date of their creation.
     
  4. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Brian, I will be very happy when I can produce 12 good pictures in a year. Currently I've just passed the 2 mark, so a little way to go. However when my new darkroom opens for business next February (or March or April) the hit rate could jump to 3!
     
  5. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Jeesh this is a difficult one after a day lazing around and oh yeah just about remembering my wifes birthday <blush>

    How do you define a "keeper"? - I am my own worst editor so I keep everything in negative form and only have a few prints in my portfolio. Anything else is shipped around different types of pictures editors hoping to interest them.

    What is a "significant" photograph? - For me it is one that provokes thoughts, memories and emotions. These are not usually the same ones that other people like.

    How many of each have you created this year? - This will sound like a cop-out but I haven't the faintest idea. I keep changing my mind when I revisit the pictures I've shot this year. I guess I have 6-12 but it depends on the mood I'm in and please remember I shoot one hell of a lot of film. A model shoot can easily be 10-12 rolls, when I'm out exploring usually at least 3-4 rolls as session.

    Hope some of that makes sense :smile:
     
  6. jim kirk jr.

    jim kirk jr. Member

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    I consider am image a keeper if it comes out technically the way I envisaged it when composing.
    I consider an image significant if it actually conveys the emotional impact I concieved of when composing it.
    Now if I get both the emptional imapact I thought of as well as being technically what I wanted well then...
    I would say twelve significant ones per year is what I feel I achieve,with many more keepers.Even in the 35mm mindset as you put it,using IR tends to slow me down and really has me thinking about what I want the image to convey before hand.
     
  7. Francesco

    Francesco Member

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    I define a keeper as one that pleases me in the areas of composition, local contrast and general contrast as befits the scene. If what I visualised at the time of exposure is realised in print then it is a keeper. I have a few of these.

    I define a "significant" keeper as a keeper that has become a keeper to someone other than myself, i.e. I have sold it. I have a few of these too.
     
  8. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    When I did my "Fifty" project, I went through 8500 + negatives and came up with 50 (plus a bonus image). Pretty low percentage, but that's photography.

    One usually gets a higher rate of keepers when using a view camera. That's because there is so much work involved in producing an image that the images are ruthlessly edited prior to setting up the camera.
     
  9. bmac

    bmac Member

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    Just a note, the 35mm mindset is my concept of how I used to shoot when I did a lot of 35mm stuff. Basically machine gun style shooting. It wasnt meant as a dig.
     
  10. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Brian I'm sure it wasn't taken by anyone as a dig! As a mostly 35mm shooter (and sometimes the word that may not be said) I admit that it's far easier to take more shots in sequence. Some of my best pictures have been when I have asked a model to move from one pose to another and in between there has been magic that I was able to capture with a 35mm that I couldn't have with a larger format. The same happens with my reportage, I walk around and there is the shot seen, captured and hopefully nailed all in maybe 3 or 4 seconds. Sometimes those candid moments are better than a whole day of planned shooting :smile:
     
  11. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Know what you mean about 35mm thinking; since I started LF, I slowed down and concentrated so hard on the technical aspects of the image, after a while it started becoming an end in itself. Now, the 'concept' is more important. and invoking a feeling out of it, is very important.

    The closer the original idea and the final result are matched, the more likely it is to be a keeper for me. If you can do it every time, then the success of the images are only restrained by the imagination. That's gotta be photographer nirvana!
    There's sometimes an amount of chance in making the picture a success (for me), but when all the considerations at the time of exposing the film come together and are apparent in the final picture, then I'm usually far more satisfied with it. And if the chance part comes off - that's a BLAST! Unfortunately, odds are there will be a significant gap between initial concept and final result.

    Regards "significant" images. Those are defined by other people, who get to see your image. There have been quite a few interviews with Elliot Erwitt of Magnum over the past 6 months or so. In every one I've heard, (without prompting) he mentions a photo of an Iraqi prisoner standing on a box with a hood. He says it is the most "significant photograph of recent times, and will be viewed and remembered time and again for decades". Some might say Mr Erwitt's 6th floor aprtment with ground floor studio/darkroom overlooking Central Park NYC perhaps is testament to his ability to pick a 'significant' photo. So the basic theory is that any image that invokes a feeling or thought in people is significant. The more feeling it conveys, and the wider the audience it relates to, the more significant it will be.
    So it's just a matter of deciding what feeling you wish to convey. :confused:. sorry soap boxing a bit ... just my 2c.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 1, 2004
  12. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    John very much like Nick Ut's which is one many of us will carry to our grave. Although hopefully none of us will have to capture another image like that one to have a significant picture.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 30, 2004
  13. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Best thing I ever did was get away from the 35mm rapid-fire technique. Even when I first got the 4x5, I was still under its influence and its effects were even more evident. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of work where that style of shooting is necessary, but not in what I am doing. The 8x10 really opened my eyes.

    Adams may have been speaking from the perspective of having the high-end patronage that he had. Twelve "significant" photos, those that sold in quantity at New York prices, would certainly be a blessing.
     
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  15. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Hmmmmm!!! Since I have really done a couple of transitions this year this is interesting. Have moved from 35mm to MF and have started moving to LF. I agree with the comments about 35mm - it is more like a rapid fire exercise. That said, one of the keepers I have came from 35mm last year. I have to fight to keep the mindset out while shooting MF sometimes - now I spend too much film trying to get the exposure right -still lacking the skill to get what I see in the minds eye on film.

    Keepers, these are images that still interest me after the develope + print stage. These are images that the subject, feeling is still there - my working prints. Significant keepers - don't have any yet, close as I have come are the ones that have gone out in the print exchange - this would be an image that is moving in some way, one that makes someone stop for a look, not just to see it but to want to find out more. Like most here, that is what it is all about..don't care how many I can produce in a year - right now 1 would be nice. Hopefully, moving that direction. Does not matter if it is with LF/MF or rapid fire 35, if the image is moving, has the 'vision' I saw when I made the image - then it will be a significant keeper.
     
  16. Shmoo

    Shmoo Member

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    Moving from 35mm to med. fmt. to LF seems to have a positive influence on most people who have made the transition. I think that LF has made my MF and 35mm work better...more "keepers" if you will. Do you think that's true of you?

    S
     
  17. bmac

    bmac Member

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    Totally.
     
  18. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    I certainly do as I have already said. In terms of images recorded, the ratio of "keepers" to "junkers" is a lot higher with LF than when I was shooting 35mm. All too often with the 35, I would just shoot and hope one frame out of the roll would be good. In fact, the concensus of many shooting 35mm was one good one out of the roll was considered a good success ratio. In terms of the actual amount of film shot per keeper, the ratio is nearly equal because one sheet of 8x10 is equal in surface area of film to a 36 frame roll of 35mm.

    Keeping statistics of this type is depressing to me though. I'm an engineer and could obsess over the numbers into infinity, but that's not what is important to me. The important things are that I make good photos that I like and hopefully others will too. Obsessing over the keeper/junker ratio destroys the joy I experience from photography and is counterproductive. I will just leave it by simply saying that I make more photos that I like using LF than I did using 35mm. I have several "keepers" from the 35, but I find it easier and more intuitive to achieve and feel success with the 8x10.

    As I said earlier, my eyes were opened when I looked through the ground glass of the 8x10.
     
  19. mobtown_4x5

    mobtown_4x5 Member

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    I hope this doesn't come off as overly "negative" (groan)- but I feel that am not 100% happy with a single photograph I've made thus far. :sad:

    Matt
     
  20. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    If it speaks, I keep it.

    If, when it speaks, it says something meaningful, it's significant.

    Yes, it's photography by feel. Girly photography. :smile:
     
  21. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    Ok, that's it, I'm a girly photographer now!

    Seriously, though, that's pretty much how I do it, by feel. Or looks. Or something. I can't put it in words (which doesn't mean I'm making an "artistic statement" about my craft, it means my vocabulary is weak).

    I tend to do things by projects, and the last one I've shot is the Xique-Xique, Santo Inácio, Miguel Calmon series. I shot about 1000 frames there, and would be happy with 30-50 keepers, and maybe 5-10 excellent shots. Time will tell, though.
     
  22. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    Matt I'm 100% with you, every shot I have taken in the last mmmm almost 30 years could have been improved :smile:
     
  23. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I never took a picture I didn't like!!!

    Making good photographs is an evolutionary process, and a keeper today, may not be a keeper next year. I just try to make good negs and prints, and when I have enough, the keepers start becoming more obvious.

    Cheers,
    Suzanne
     
  24. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I guess I'm a "girly photographer", too. Feeling is good. Being technically good is okay, but emotion, evocation and an inner stirring is better. (Jeez, did I just say that?) I'm not very successful at getting the feelings across to others in my pictures, I'm afraid. I can live with that as long as a few of my pictures work on an emotional level to me.
     
  25. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    Keepers, huh? When my brother and I were young, we went fishing one day. We didn't bring anything to put the caught fish in, so being kids we stuck the fish in our pants pockets. And also being kids, we went about doing kids things for the rest of the day. By the time we got home later that afternoon, we were reeking... Oh, you mean photographic kepers!! :D
    I would have to agree with Cheryl - the photographs have to speak to me on some level: emotionally, spiritually, visually or conceptually.

    gene :wink:
     
  26. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Just don't ever quit and you will at some point have some that you feel cannot be improved upon.