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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Ramblings About Uncertainty

I continue to think about (and be plagued by) the whole issue of 'greatest hit images' versus images that serve as part of a 'self-contained' project. I have posted about this before and, almost assuredly, will do so again in the future, as it continues to be a source of confusion and uncertainty for me.

The issue, in brief, concerns the use of images that are related as a project in some way, as compared to what one might consider a collection of their best images. The obvious example I have in mind is my Twin Jewels Project, which I have written about before. It is a project that seems to pull me in two directions since, on the one hand, I want very much to complete and 'market' it, in terms of having it shown but, on the other hand, the images simply aren't my 'best' work because the beauty of the locale is quite subtle. If one took ten of my best shots of this particular location and mixed them in with ten of what I consider to be my best landscape images (taken around the country), I suspect that most people would be able to fairly accurately divide them into two separate piles. If one has not had many local area showings, wouldn't it be preferable to have their best work shown? On the other hand there is certainly something to be said for work from one location that is coherent and would also have local interest because the parks are nearby? See.....back and forth, back and forth, while at the same time I continue working on the project because I know it is something that I want to and should do.

Let me give an example that consists of two images, the prints of which I just completed. As individual 'stand-alone' images, I don't find them particularly compelling but they do convey a feeling about the location where they were taken; at least that was my intention.

I will sometimes post images on a photo review and critique forum or two, and did so with these two shots. Neither of the images received much attention or garnered any notice. Only one comment was made , and that person felt the image was mediocre. To be fair, I am not at all sure that I would have paid much attention to them as 'stand-alone' postings on a critique site either. But how do they fare as part of a larger project aimed at depicting one location or area? Should they be judged as if they were one lone picture on a wall looking for 'stardome' or judged in another fashion, as part of a greater whole and as an image of a location that will never be particularly grand by 'grand landscape' standards. How can one tell if an image is effective as part of a greater whole? I know that when reading LensWork, for example, I see portfolios that hold together extremely well but I know that I would not be excited about many of the images if viewed singly and out of context of the greater project. And how does one reconcile this with a desire to have the project shown on 'gallery walls', if you will, if they don't stand up as individual pieces of art?

Rocks And Mist
Copyright Howard Grill

Walking Into Winter
Copyright Howard Grill

So, in this, more than any other posting, I really am searching for people's comments as to how to reconcile these issues. Any 'answers' to the above questions would be appreciated. Any honest comments about how these two images relate to the answers and if they seem like they would be expressive as part of a greater project (or do they not convey any feel at all?.....I was aiming for a sense of tranquility with the first and a cold sense of endless winter with the second) would be appreciated. I think it would help me and probably also make for some worthwhile discussion.

OK, I better post this before I decide not to....