Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What Bob Dylan said

During a visit by my parents last weekend my mom asked to see what I was working on lately, so I gave her a box of about 700 Diana prints to browse.

Albertson's, 10/08

She spent roughly a day narrowing them down to 17 favorites. They're shown here chronologically.

Springfield, 11/08

As usual her picks were completely unexpected. She chose photos I'd forgotten about or dismissed, many of which were abstract and weird, and left out many that I thought were sure-fire winners.

25th Ave, 12/08

That's why I like to get her take periodically. It may not always align with my own but it's guaranteed to be original.

Grants Pass, 12/08

I should probably take a minute to explain where my mom is coming from.

Barbur Blvd, 1/09

For the past 15 years she's been a sculptor, mostly using cast bronze, and before that she spent many years as a calligrapher. And all along the way she's been an amateur photographer.

Fox Hollow Rd., 8/09

All of which is to say she has a strong background in art, but she's not a hardcore photogeek. You won't find her cruising TPP or FPN.

Civic Stadium, 10/09

But she has strong personal taste, which is more than I can say for many, and I trust that.

Amazon Creek, 12/09

My friend Faulkner uses a similar method. Every few weeks he gets together with family and passes around prints, and everyone writes initials on the backs of the ones they like. Their picks are often quite different than his own.

Leo, 1/10

If you think you know your own photos well, this method can offer something to chew on.

Marquam Bridge, 1/10

I think the lesson is that it's healthy to get photo feedback from a variety of sources.

Last photo of Yassas, 6/10

Feedback from other photographers is great but not usually sufficient on its own, since there can be a tendency for it to fall into certain patterns. Anyone who's ever put a photo up on Flickr can probably confirm this for themselves. Flickr's audience isn't the average Joe. It's other photographers.

Emmett, 6/10

I think the best feedback comes from others with rich inner lives. Artists, musicians, poets, children. I suspect polar explorers would offer helpful comments.

Buckley Center Gallery, 8/10

The most democratic feedback method would probably be to stand on a street corner with a box of prints to browse, choosing people from the passing crowd. But that method presents complications. It's messy, it takes energy, and it's hard to tell which passersby aren't photographers.

Division St., 10/10

I think the closest equivalent on the web is Facebook. You put a photo up there and it's seen by everyone regardless of photographic background. Beware: comments can come from out near the warning track.

EGP A4, 11/10

But alas, Facebook comes with its own set of challenges involving rights and privacy issues. I don't know too many photographers who use it for serious feedback.

Roseburg, 11/10

Putting photos in a blog post can work but it's the same problem as Flickr. Most viewers are other photographers. I know that's true for B. Nothing against you all. It's just that...I don't know. Forget I said anything.

VRC Bridge, 11/10

You don't need a botanist to tell you how beautiful fall leaves are, right? Well it's sort of the same deal as that.


jophilippe said...

> "I gave her a box of about 700 Diana prints to browse (...) She spent roughly a day narrowing them down to 17 favorites."

Your mum must have a brilliant mind.

Anonymous said...

Great story and a great set! Thank you.

Moopheus said...

I gave my mother a one-off book of some of my photos. She seemed to like them but had no specific commentary. I rally can't imagine my mother spending a day looking at a whole box of photos. So you're lucky, I think. But I think you're right about the sort of closed-loop effect of showing the work to other photographers. It's nice to get compliments from others whose work you think is also good, but it doesn't really help you get a sense of what others think.

bastinptc said...

You didn't need to mention your mother is an artist. It was evident from the first photo picked. You are blessed with such a mother and gene pool.

As for finding a source of feedback for one's work, sure family might offer some interesting choices, as would the passer by. One might get a smattering of useful comments on a blog, on tumbler or facebook. Still, as you know from experience, those people with a similar passion and with whom you've made a significant connection, have the opinions we trust most.

Claire said...

It's Alright, Ma....

R Montalban said...

Thank you for sharing this, I got a lot from it to ponder over :-)

Marilyn Andrews said...

Wow! A shout out on Blake's prize winning blog: how cool is that? It is always a pleasure to look through Blake's prints, and see what part of the world he has singled out for a photo op.

First, I look at composition, because that is what interests me the most. Blake's sense of composition is a strength, especially the Mighty Diagonal.

Then I look for a some black - it can be a lot or a little. That is just a personal preference. If it's a really good composition, I can forgo the black, but not usually.

Then I look at the whole thing. Is it refreshing? Does it show me something I haven't yet seen?

The hardest subject matter, in my opinion, is a photo which is exclusively of the natural world - trees, sky, mountains, etc - and I don't know why. It just is.

Thanks, Blake! love, Mom

Marilyn Andrews said...

PS/ Oh, and quality of light. How could I leave that out? That is key!

Joe said...

First of all, I'm impressed that you made 700 prints. That's more than many people will make in their lifetime now.

I'm preparing a presentation with the premise that many photographers would benefit from finding artistic inspiration from other art forms. Expanding this idea to include getting feedback from artists who work in these other art forms is brilliant.

And you've found a superb curator. These are some of the best images of yours that I've seen.

Blake Andrews said...

Joe, I am sort of old fashioned. I can't really judge photos well on a computer screen. It helps me to have the object in front of me, preferably a stack of them. For some reason this is way easier for me to get my head around than a folder of jpgs on a desktop. That's just me. I make about 50 or 60 new prints per week, so 700 isn't really very many.

Lest anyone think there was a nepotistic slant to the curation, I assure you all that it was purely chance I happen to be related to the photo editor of this post. Anyone passing through or staying at my home would have the same opportunity, or anyone within shouting distance standing on a random street corner.

I hadn't thought of the "It's alright, Ma!" quote. I was thinking of weatherman/wind blows. I guess Dylan is broad enough to contain multiple references to just about anything.

Nice edit, Mom.