A Forster’s Tern fishing, Shoreline Lake, Mountain View, California
About a month ago I published my first portfolio, Impressions of Yellowstone, asking for feedback. Putting something out there for the first time like this is frankly a bit scary, but if you don’t do it, you’ll never improve and get it right. I want to especially thank QT Luong and David Barto for their comments.
The portfolio clearly needed tweaking, and so now I’ve done that, and here is Version 2 of Impressions of Yellowstone, plus I’ve done it as an online slideshow as well. It is substantially the same, but a number of images got reprocessed and/or re-cropped, a few images got swapped out and replaced and I removed the image commentary.
The commentary was, in retrospect, a clear sign that I didn’t trust the images to stand on their own and I was trying to “help” them. That was a sign of this being my first time out and being way out of my comfort zone, which was the whole point of the exercise, of course.
Do the images really hold up to a portfolio? Most of them, yes. I removed a few where I’d originally chosen them because I was still emotionally attached to the moment of taking them more and not for the true quality of the image. Sometimes I need some time to be able to see images more objectively — which I knew, but I was still surprised how some of the moments of taking the images affected my judgement. Something to watch more closely, and perhaps wait longer before making selections for something like this.
I also think a good general lesson is that your first impressions of an image might not be always correct, and that it really makes sense to go back into your work and re-evaluate them. I know when I went back in to do cleanup and validate the star ratings I ended up making a number of changes, mostly downgrading images that I’d ranked too high, but also promoting a few images that I hadn’t seen to be as good on the first edit.
Overall, I think the portfolio is good, the images solid, although not close to the kind of stunning stuff you’ll see by photographers like Ian Plant. that’s okay because I know I have to keep pushing the craft.
There are some cases where I’m disappointed in the quality of my shooting, especially with the Pronghorn Antelopes where most of the images seemed a bit off and soft, and I’m not sure why, but they just weren’t as good as a group as some of the other species. I think I learned a lot about how to build this kind of display and what kind of images work in it (and what doesn’t), which will help me understand how to build better portfolios down the road, and take better pictures overall.
Next big opportunity to challenge myself is October when we had out to the Eastern Sierra for fall with Michael Frye. I was in a discussion this week where my refuge project came up, and I realized that I needed to start thinking about where (or whether, given the drought) I wanted to go for that this winter. It’s still unclear how badly hit the refuges will be by the drought, although it’s going to be bad. And I’m behind my goal for a portfolio a quarter this year, so I think trying to build one out with the refuge material is next…