Friday, June 25, 2010

Creating A Portfolio 2

I presently have 1 book – Nightwork Photographs 1.0, 5 portfolios of 13”x19” prints, 7 portfolios of 3.5” x 5” prints and over a dozen electronic portfolios. I have found the closer I move to a book the harder it becomes to edit the work. Beginning with an electronic portfolio is a great way to get started on this complex project.

Recently I began a revision of the book. The first book was self published using Blurb. It was very small – 10 photographs. The main objective was to test the quality of the printing which I felt was pretty good, but quite distant from commercial publishers of photography books like Phaidon. The revised second book will go thru a different editing process. It has more photographs and I will be showing it to people as a PDF file and use this as a way to edit it some more. I then plan to copyright it and give it out for free on a request basis. I will then again edit it, copyright the new version, get an ISBN number and begin to sell it as a paperback book and electronic book. It’s not a task I look forward to, so it will probably go slowly.

I like making PDFs. This has become my favorite way to show work – both my own and that of others. PDFs are fast and easy to make and look good on both a monitor and projection screen.

As stated throughout my blog I dogmatically believe in prints. This is the way I like seeing my work best as well as the work of others. I have 2 types of print portfolios – 13” x19” Itoya Art Profolio Advantage books and reconfigured rectangular plastic CD cases filled with 3.5”x5” prints. The small cases I limit to 10 prints. The portfolio books had been limited to 10 prints, but I am experimenting with a larger selection of prints.

Over the past few years I have experimented a lot with Flickr. I first used it as a teaching tool for my Thomas Edison State College photography classes. I had tried most of the other photo sharing sites and found them flawed in one way or another. I found Flickr very easy to use and began to use it myself as my first level of editing work. Before these sites I had helped students construct photography websites for several years and watched how hard this was for too many students. I like Flickr for it’s clear and straightforward display and how widely it is watched. Real buyers watch what’s posted there, then contact photographers and buy Flickr photographs directly from photographers for reasonable usage fees. Flickr does not allow photographers to sell work directly from the site. I like the options for creating sets and how easy it is to rearrange the order of display as well as edit individual images with their basic and easy to use image editing tools.

Putting work in a portfolio is a lot of work. Each level gets harder. But it clarifies for both you and your audience as to who you are and helps you make better future photographs.

© 2010 Paul Light all rights reserved

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

In Defense of Printing

When I began photography I was unsure about making my own prints. I found it a difficult and expensive process. This had more to do with my objectives rather than the difficulty of the process or the cost of the materials. I was continually interested in raising the quality of each new print, an objective I still maintain.

Shortly after beginning photography I became friends with Minor White. He convinced me of the value of making one’s own prints. His principal argument was that it was a contemplative process, where one would learn to take better photographs from printing, as well as think about photography as art and what that meant while being engaged in the activity of making prints.

A few years later I met Aaron Siskind. During our 10 year friendship we talked lots about printing and I got to see how his individual prints were the process of experimenting in the darkroom rather than just trying to mechanically reproduce the negative.

I realize that many of today’s most important photographers do not print, have no plans to print in the future and still produce eloquent prints with the help of a staff or a professional lab. I don’t think it is necessary to print to be a real photographer.

But if the choice of printing is made, the options today are pretty amazing. One paper in particular has got my attention – Epson Watercolor Paper Radiant White. This paper seems to work well on a variety of printers. What I am seeing in classes is students experimenting with this paper using inexpensive HP printers, as well as other printers, mostly the type of printer that is often thrown in for free when buying a new computer. The best results are from high end Epson printers, as would be expected. But the results from inexpensive printers are pretty impressive. This paper may damage the printer over time, but is this really not much of a concern with an inexpensive printer. This seems to be a worthwhile starting point for anyone who is new to making their own prints.

© 2010 Paul Light all rights reserved