is good worthless?

With the official totals for my recent trips hovering around 38000 and 40000 images, I find myself despairing over how many “good” photographs I have. Around every corner in venice is a beautiful scene with a canal, a building that is slightly off kilter being held up by petrified wood piers, some beautiful flowers in the flower boxes (I think about 20% of Italy’s GDP is spent on flowers in windows ;) ) However, with such similarity it’s hard to pick out which if any, are “great”, which means to me, that they aren’t great. A great image leaps out at me and grabs me by the lapels (Perhaps my problem is that I’m wearing tshirts while editing my photos which don’t have lapels). In wildlife photography, there’s so often a decisive moment, the lion leaping the river, or the kingfisher caught midflight, that says THIS ONE. Although as a counter point, I have a lot of lion images from africa where they are just sleeping, that are “good”. So again I’m faced with what do I do with the images that are nice, that collectively help to tell the story of a place but aren’t going to be featured in the gallery. In a world that has so many great shots, my good shots are competing for the ever shortened attention span against images that probably have a whale breaching in one of Venice’s canals. Of course these “great” images might not represent that slurry of tastes and sounds that embody a trip to venice, because they are so apart from the normal.

I think the good vs. great tension is present in our lives as well. How do we savor and appreciate the good moments in our life, when the media is only talking about the great moments the celebrities are having? Does hearing about the royal wedding diminish the memories of weddings we’ve been to? I hope not, though I fear that the age of omnipresent information allows us to compare ever present good against a presented great. Even the great moments in our lives when patched together would make an impressive slideshow, but would present a wildly inaccurate story for posterity, as I think the good moments in my life are much more me.


5 Responses to “is good worthless?”

  1. I think you should load them to a database that continually randomizes and shows them all day for friends wanting to escape the real world for a few minutes and allow starring or voting functionality for people to suggest if something really speaks to them. I think a lot of what makes art great is when it speaks to you independently so perhaps some of the images aren’t evoking a special moment or memory for you (although beautiful), you never know what memories a photograph might bring to your observer and therefore be great in the eyes of another, but just “good” through your lens. Example: The Ansel Adams’ collection we have, everyone loves the famous pics, my favorite BY FAR is one that looks just like the creek in the backyard I grew up in. I wouldn’t trade it for anything and to me that picture is priceless, to Rustan it’s just quite “good.”

  2. Would that I had the problem of picking out the great from the good every day. ;)

    But, I see the problem as far as the photos go… Sometimes it’s a problem of the creator (you) being too close to the product. In the writing world, that means you need a critique partner to tell you which of your darlings to murder. In photography world, I dunno. Maybe a photography critique partner?

  3. Sonja, I should clarify, both in my life and my photos, the vast majority is adequate, marginal, meh, blah, or downright terrible.

    I’m sure there’s a problem of distance, and a critique partner is a good suggestion. But say 10% of the “good” ones are deemed to be worth publishing. Still what do I do with a 100 photos of venice?

    Morgan’s suggestion to put them up on the internet, is definitely taking advantage of the long tail of the internet, and if I key word them enough maybe somebody will find them via search, or somebody like Morgan might be willing to look through them all but I just don’t know how many people. Perhaps I will have to give it a try and look for some site that makes that easy for me to upload and easy for people to look through and favorite.

    Thanks for the feedback you two!

  4. Randolph Jay Braun Says:

    You are awesome.
    I swear you shot more that 60,000 from the bus window alone.
    I am searching for my 10 best from Italy still. It is a slow and tiring process. I can hardly recall being in some of the locations where I took photos!

  5. Interesting blog Bryn. Many of us committed photographers have similar thoughts. Your gallery is a wonderful out pouring of the great and I wish I had a similar outlet. Right now I get a lot of satisfaction with the occasional photo spam. I look forward to see the new gallery in the near future. Keep in touch. George

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