Sunday, 14 June 2009

Judging ones own work

Run-off pool, Cumbria, May 2009
This one is an also-ran

Going through the process of selection of photos for my SoFoBoMo books and the evaluation sessions on the recent workshop has got me thinking about how I judge my own work. There are many ways one could do this, I suppose but here is my approach.

I generally think about my work in four tiers: the print work, the good, the almost and the rejects. Print work is what I consider to be my very best (at the time) and gets printed for display. A few make it onto the walls. The good are generally acceptable, OK for a book but missing something. The other tiers fall away from there. Of course my cut-off level for each tier changes over time. There is stuff from a couple of years ago that was print material then and would only get into the almost pile now.

But what is good? For me it is all about matching output with intent - that includes subject, the technical stuff like lighting and composition and most importantly reaction to the work. Garnering others reaction can be tricky. And I'm not always necessarily looking for high praise. Mixed reaction, positive and negative, is sometimes part of it.

Which then comes down to the material I've been choosing for SoFoBoMo. The first book has been pretty good, I feel, in terms of picture selection. Only a couple from the almost pile. The next one will have far more compromises. I am using SoFoBoMo much more about the process of book design than the actual images. The dilemma I face there is that I will also be using some of my very best recent work. And if I have a series that has some print material, do I devalue those by putting them in a book, or does it improve the book?

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