I have thousands of photographs; I am ashamed to admit that hardly any of them have ever been printed out, let alone framed. They stretch back to as early as 2005 and form a handy reminder of how far I have come. But, the thing is that some of these photos from way back are having a second lease of life, they keep niggling away at me in the back of my brain. In fact I am beginning to wonder if all the photographs that I have taken in the last 5 or 6 years are worthy of re-evaluation or re-appraisal. This is primarily because my digital darkroom skills have improved no end and there are things I know to do now (such as applying an unsharp mask) that I didn’t do then. I know how to fix exposures and apply filters to rescue images that I may well have dismissed out of hand in the past. Also, there are images that I was guilty of over-processing in the past that I now think would be best approached more subtly. My problem is that there are so many of them, most existing on several back-up discs.
Someone once said to me that there is no point in being a photographer if you are not going to print your pictures and hang them. There can be no doubt this is very true, but wall space at home is limited and most of my own personal favourites are framed and hanged already; furthermore, frames are expensive, even at places like IKEA, when you are buying in bulk.
I definitely do need to print and frame more of my pictures as whenever I do I am usually quite impressed with the results. The main reason why I currently don’t is that there are now so many of them that I would not know where to start; I am pretty disorganised and not particularly good at workflow (i.e. labelling and cataloguing my pictures so that I know exactly where a specific set of pictures is and where to find it). Yes there is software that will do this for me but I run out of space so often on various internal and external disc drives that I am constantly moving them about and the links get broken. Add to this the fact that my new camera, when shooting in RAW mode, takes images that have a huge file size (~25 MB per picture) and you can see how I am running out of space both in the virtual and physical worlds.
Choosing pictures to print and frame is also problematical for me as it is a very subjective exercise. When I had my exhibition last year, I chose 15 or so images that I was particularly proud of. Some of them sold but others were hardly commented on. Therefore I am very aware that I should not rely on my own judgement when choosing which pictures to print, frame and hang but ask the opinions of others who I trust and respect.
This blog illustrates the above point very well. Sometimes it comes very easy; other times it doesn’t. Several people have said that I may have taken on too much. Last night was a case in point. It was late on a Sunday afternoon and I had no idea what to write or what picture to use. In desperation I went for the image from Bamburgh beach, which is the very definition of one of the older images that I had passed over in search of greater glory. I was pretty pleased with it for an on-the-fly, quota-filling blog post. Yet, reaction to it has been very positive in terms of other bloggers liking it and on Twitter. As a result I am doing some prints…
I have come to realise that the biggest stumbling block in this entire set up is me. I am constantly surprised by the positive feedback and the support. Unfortunately, this stumbling block is a pretty big one to get round. Most people that know me very well would tell you that I am an extrovert; they would probably mention the fact that I rarely shut up, that I am opinionated and they would definitely mention the sarcasm (and probably the annoying laugh if truth be told). What they perhaps wouldn’t know, except very old and very close friends, is that this is a bit of an over-compensation mechanism. When I was younger, I was very shy and, to a certain extent I still am [surprising I know for some exhibitionist who is writing a blog about himself every day]. To this day, I hate using the phone, unless I know beforehand that the exact person I want to speak to is going to pick up at the other end; the thought of cold-calling someone that I have not met before is terrifying to me; ditto taking things back to shops, I just can’t do it. The rise of e-mail and social networking has been a boon to me, certainly in terms of complaining about bad service, etc. I would never be able to do it over the phone.
It’s a bit of an English thing. To not want to make a fuss. We tend to keep quiet even when situations arise that are frankly scandalous, for example that peculiarly British thing of putting up with awful meals and service and saying that they were ‘lovely’ to avoid a confrontation. Of course I realise that I am saying this through a prism of my own experiences. I know that this is a wide generalisation but I do feel very uneasy when people rightly complain about things; I usually want to leave the room. Everything I have achieved so far has been by happy accident and mostly via the medium of this blog; it has led to all sorts of wonderful things. But I now realise that I need to do more, to be more proactive. Building a website is fine but not if no-one knows about; stating that prints are available is not enough.
So what does this mean? Well, I need to raise some cash and pay someone to develop a proper, effective, professional website that looks better than mine currently does, shows the pictures off in their best light and enables interested parties to quickly order prints. This information is on my website but needs to be used and presented better. I also need to exhibit more and with this in mind have actually been proactive of late. Can’t say too much now as it may well be doomed to failure but I have at least finally realised that I need to do something positive. There are a couple of opportunities that I currently have my fingers crossed about, but I will never be that adept at shouting ‘look at me’ (no, really). So, on the day that product placement is made legal in UK television [another reason not to watch ITV], I have realized that a little self promotion might not necessarily be the slough of despond that I think it is. So, if you own a business in the North West and have some blank wall space to fill then please get in touch; I’d be delighted to get the chance to frame some more pictures.