Two weeks ago I ran into trouble: A very experienced and successful photographer asked me to send him my 50 best photographs by the morning of the following day. Not 10 good photographs, but my 50 best photographs. Now, I would already be a very happy man if I had even 50 good photographs… and besides, I have been shooting a lot of different things over the past 10 years, how could I possibly make a good selection without any restriction other than “best”? Worse yet: I only had half a day to make the selection.
Needless to say it was a long night. When it was already getting bright outside, I was exhausted, sleepy, tired. I wasn’t satisfied with my selection. Once again I realized there’s so much more work to do, so many photos I didn’t take yet, but have to. And it was really hard to decide which ones to keep and which ones to delete. I decided to let it be, sent the 50 photos in, and went to bed in a rather ill mood.
This is the selection I came up with, my 50 best photographs as of July 2014: holgerferoudj.com/album/50-best-photographs/
Show me YOUR 50 best photographs!
I am asking you now to do the same. I am challenging you: Which photographs would you choose if you had to send me your 50 best photographs by tomorrow morning? I promise, it is going to be an eye opening experience. One that is worth it.
(e.g. share it on your website, flickr, some other social media thing where you can share albums, dropbox, etc!)
We’re already way into 2014 – and this year promises to become spectacular in every way. As my awesome newsletter readers already know, because they followed me along the process as it happened, I’ve been busy most of the beginning of January and end of December with editing my photographs from 2013, to pick a selection for my new portfolio.
Let me tell you how I was close to burning all of my photographs, but somehow managed to reach the other side of the swamp.
I’m not gonna lie to you – the process of editing was a lot harder than I had thought. This is not the first time I am editing my photographs, but the first time after I felt that massive shift inside of me to head in another direction with my work. More than I had ever experienced before, it was driving me close to insanity at times, and definitely left me wanting to burn all of my photographs more than once. By being confronted with my images 24/7, weak spots became more and more obvious, to the point that all of my photos started laughing at me loudly like the devil himself. Makes you wonder why you waste so much time doing photography and don’t get a “real job,” when you obviously don’t have any talent at all.
It is easy to give up at that point, but this was no option for me. I had to push through this, even if not all was strawberry cupcake and some real work was involved. Gotta keep on moving. And then finally, when I was just about to call it a day, there came the moment when I started seeing everything fit together in one way or another, and suddenly I realized which way I was headed and what I need to focus on from now on. And it felt good.
Don’t get me wrong – this new portfolio is only a cross-section of what my recent photography is about. Topics change, stories change, one chapter ends and I start writing (shooting) another one. There’s a lot of work ahead, but it’s a neat stepping stone and I’m super motivated to get out there and shoot the missing pieces.
About the process
I made many small prints of a pre-selection of photographs and edited “manually” by laying them out on the floor, instead of editing them digitally. It’s different. It really is. You live with your photographs, you can’t just click them away. You get a better overview. It feels more real. Some photos look fantastic on the screen, but once you print them and hold them in your hand, they look like crap. Likewise, some photos are meant to be looked at in print and lose their magic when seen on a screen.
A lot of time was spent drinking many hot beverages just staring at the photos on the ground, feeling them, and shifting stuff around.
At some point, when I couldn’t ignore anymore that the quality is far off from where I aim at, I drank even more hot beverages at a loss of what else to do, staring at the prints on the floor a bit more desperately. That’s when the evil thoughts happened and the darkest of thoughts appeared from deep inside myself, haha.
1) Portraits: First among the selections is my portrait album, which is built from two “acts”, or two different stories. I only started focusing on portraits recently, and it shows, but this also means that i still have a lot of headspace.
2) Fine Art: People kill each other over the definition of “fine art” – this portfolio contains some of my single, very deliberate pieces. Pieces meant for a life outside of the computer, really. Pieces that cost me the one or other night of sleep.
3) City Story: Just what the name says – a city story, in 3 acts. I’m sure you will see immediately how these are grouped together. And the story only just began and is still far from being finished!
The result of my editing process is 2-3 series, and 3 portfolios (that you can find linked in the menu bar up there ↑). Compared to my previous portfolio, the photographs of the 3 new portfolios are glued together to a unity less by visual fireworks and magic tricks. I’m getting tired of merely “beautiful” photographs, both looking at them and shooting them. Just open the main page of 500px or flickr and you see what i mean. Been there done that. The portfolios I selected are instead held together more by intuition and my very personal way of looking at things. It just “feels right” to me, for various reasons. Maybe it won’t feel right to you. That’s okay. Let’s discuss it. I’m way past minding a good beating 😉
Next up is the major task of following the thread back into the past and dig out the very beginnings, and bring them into this new family, where they belong. Nevertheless, of course the world doesn’t stop spinning, and there’s something new to be found every day.
Oh, and I am currently working on the project I was shooting when I was in Germany, which I might write more about in the newsletter, but nothing to announce publicly yet.
Good things take while! 😉