One of the goals I set myself this year was to push myself to put more thought and energy into publishing and display of my images instead of putting most of my time into taking them. This isn’t about creating sales (if that imrpoves,it’s a nice side benefit, of course), but more about understanding how to best show off the images, how to put them in context, and how to better distribute them so they get seen. A good picture is a good picture, but a good picture with an audience of one can’t make much of an impact.
One of the projects I set for myself was to create and publish a portfolio a quarter. I missed Q1 due to the shift in jobs to Cisco, but I’ll fix that soon. For Q2, I knew the Yellowstone trip would be the topic. And so here it is, Impressions of Yellowstone. I’d love your thoughts and feedback on this, even if you think it sucks. Especially that, so I can learn. I’m unsure if the commentary I added to the images helps or hurts this and I’d really like to know how you react to it.
When I got back from Yellowstone, I did some experimenting with Animoto, and my first published slideshow is up on vimeo. I honestly don’t think it’s that good but it helped me work through a number of issues that I think made the portfolio a lot better, and I do plan on pushing myself in this format as well — I think the show I did celebrating the Bird Photography Chasing 10,000 contest came out a lot better. (yes, I’m experimenting with both vimeo and youtube, and finding them useful for different things. Not sure yet if I’ll settle on one or the other or both yet).
Having never done this before, I’m way out of my comfort zone and it’s been an interesting struggle creating a look that I felt set off the images well and, well, didn’t absolutely suck and embarrass me. It’s really tempting to just bury all of this and go back to pushing shutter buttons and posting to flicker and twitter and pretending that’s doing my images justice, but I know that’s not true. If you’re not stressing yourself and trying new things, you’re not pushing yourself forward, and standing still means you’re falling further behind those that are.
This is another stake in the ground as I try to figure out what it means to move beyond taking pictures. About two years ago I came to the realization that simply taking and posting pictures wasn’t enough, that I was interested in trying to tell a larger story using pictures. The first big piece of that was my refuge project, which is ongoing and will continue to be, if the drought and politics don’t just devastate them into oblivion.
But taking inspiration from Steve Bumgardner and his Yosemite Nature Notes, and also from David duChemin and his views of going beyond the technical aspects of photography into the vision and composition of the image, I’ve been challenging myself to follow those paths to find my own vision and my own voice and style.
Sometimes it’s been an extremely frustrating process, but learning and change and progress never happen without stress and experiments and failure and persistence. It’s not easy — which is the point. Along the way I experimented with video and audio and how to build multi-media presentations and timelapses and night photography and — half a dozen other things, at least (which probably puts some perspective into my comments here), and I’ve really circled back to the thought that what works for me, and what I want to do, is tell those stories through the still images that come out of a camera, and all that other stuff is awesome and interesting, but at this point a distraction. So back to the image I go.
And one image may tell a story, but you can use images together to tell a more complete and more powerful one, and that’s what I’m trying to learn. More importantly, not just tell a story, but tell the story I see so that others can also see it.
And this is the first of those. Enjoy.