I’m entering a few photographs into a juried show being held by my photography club this month.
What interests me today about this process is not so much concerns about the quality of my work but a growing realization that I have become better at discerning what is meaningful to me versus what is not.
The growth of this appreciation has been documented, in process, by many of my posts to this blog over the past year or so, but it is good to have reached a point where it has becoming quite clear to me what I want out of a photograph. Clear enough, in truth, that it informs my taking of photographs to an unprecedented extent. The upshot is, put simply, that I am taking fewer but more consistently pleasing photographs.
Many elements have featured into the change. Experience is prominent. Taking up film again has greatly sharpened my eye in terms of composition and light. Saying goodbye to my gear acquisition syndrome phase and allowing myself to become truly competent with what I actually have rather than falling into the all-too-common trap of convincing yourself that, say, acquiring the latest and sharpest iteration of a type of lens that has been in use for decades is going to improve your photography. It won’t. Not unless you yourself have improved as a photographer. Again, I have film to thank for this. Shooting film forces you back from the pixel-perfection obsession and compels you to look at the actual image, not some over-magnified element within.
So back to the show. I’m entering eight images, of which one will be the cows you see above. I like all of them for their own sake, and I think all of them tell a story. Even if none get selected, I will retain the same sense of pleasure that I currently get from them. And if any do, I can relish the fact that the jury’s interests and aesthetics coincide with my own. One thing I have not done is to try to second-guess what will make a successful exhibition entry. Do that and I will sacrifice originality and meaning for a poorly defined attempt to match an expectation.
In other words, I know I’m good and that’s all that really counts.