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« diptych # 116 ~ glue | Main | diptych # 113-114 ~ eat and drink »

diptych # 115 ~ the number 12, or 20, or whatever

new snow with yellow and red ~ Au Sable Forks, NY - in the Adirondack PARK • click to embiggen

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

Without quibbling with Sir Ansel's choice of the number "12" or trying to parse the meaning of his word "significant", if the god's of picture making rang your doorbell and demanded that you pick your, let's say, 20 "best" pictures of 2014 (under penalty of forfeiture of all your picture making gear for failure to comply), how difficult would it be for you to do so and what criteria would you use to define "best"?

For those who make lots of pictures - John Linn, Markus Spring, Juha Haataja, Colin Griffiths, Andreas Manessinger, and the More Original Refrigerator Art guy (not to mention The Landscapist), to name just a few, all come immediately to mind - the task might seem to be Herculean. Then again, there are most likely those who, for a variety of reasons, would consider the whole idea of picking and choosing to be rather pointless and I, for one, would like to know the reason(s) why that would be so.

In any event, I have been picking and choosing from amongst my 2014 picture library and have managed to narrow it down to 26 pictures at this point in the proceedings. That written, I don't think it would be a problem to get the choices down to 20, although ..... on the other hand, it wouldn't difficult to expand the number to 30. And, even if I get it down to 20 picks before the choices are cast in stone, I can't rule out the possibility that a few of those might be removed and replaced by other pictures.

I also believe that making the choices is made more difficult by the fact that one needs to decide whether to consider the idea of what's "best" for me or what's best for a given / particular viewing audience. At this juncture, I am making choices based on what's "best", or most significant, for me. That criteria is distinctly different from making choices based on what might be "best" for a viewing audience - personal versus more universally accessible / significant.

Of course, if I get my choices "right", the 20 best pictures should work for both criteria.

In any case, when I get it figured out, I'll be posting an entry with all of my "winners". In the interim I would really like to read your opinions on the exercise.

Reader Comments (3)

Thanks for the mention, Mark! For the moment the meaning of "best" escapes me, as I'm not really into comparing photographs. Or rather I feel that none of mine are good but some are less bad. And all are just ripples in time that never will be the same again.

December 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJuha Haataja

I don't think the concept of choosing one's favourites is pointless but it's not for me. Unlike the photographers you mention I make few photos in a given year (I average less than 600 and that's twice what I used to shoot a few years ago). Of those I would delete many. The rest I use in my blog or share on Flickr but rarely revisit them. The other thing is that my favourite part about photography is the process of making the photograph (including post editing if required). The end result, namely the photograph, I don't care so much about. I tend to think of it as a measuring stick to determine the success of the process. Having said that, I do occasionally make a photo that I really like for its own sake. I am not sure how many photographs would make that cut but I suppose they would be the ones that would make the "significant" list. I am fairly certain it would be less than 20. Perhaps less than 12. I just couldn't be bothered spending the time to look for them.
In any case, I do look forward to seeing your list.

December 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCedric Canard

I'm ambivalent. It's an arbitrary timeframe and it often results in a hodge-podge of images with no strong unifying theme. On the other hand, I find the most useful way to differentiate between the truly worthy and the merely good is by looking at images in a collection. The year criteria is an easy way to assemble a group of photographs and review them. Your post prompted me to do that and it proved somewhat useful. It yields a smaller set of photographs than a complete project making comparison easier.

As a rather low-grade reason, it seems to be something of a tradition.

My first pass without thinking about it too hard yielded 24 photographs. Some clearly separate themselves from the pack. The peloton I suppose. Like you, I find the exact composition of the peloton is somewhat fluid.

More recent photographs are problematic - they haven't had sufficient time to be objectively reviewed and possibly replaced by the not yet made but ultimately more worthy. An artifact of the arbitrarily imposed deadline for consideration.

December 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEric Fredine

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