Best of 2015

This was a really difficult project. I shot over 25,000 images in 2015. Too many by any measure. But of what value are any of these images if they just sit collecting virtual dust in my photo catalogue? They need to be seen. They need to be mulled over. Discussed. Dismissed even. But definitely not ignored. 

One cannot display 25,000 pictures easily. Printing them would be prohibitively expensive. There are so many crappy images, junk really, in that batch. And many repeats or series that hardly differ from one to the next. The only option is to select a few that might be representative of the entire collection in some way. 

A friend suggested this exercise could help me recognize a style or some common thread in my art, some recurring theme maybe. This alone seemed like a good reason to proceed. But additionally, it might be a chance to delete a lot of images that in the old days of film and prints would have gone in the waste basket. 

At a purely mechanical level, the process is simple enough. I created copies of all 25K images and then quickly ran through them all applying a star to any that seemed notable. Even if the image was of dubious value, I gave a star. This left me with about 500 images to consider more carefully. But while this system is straightforward enough, every single decision was fraught with difficulty. 

Many images have some emotional value to me. There may be someone in the image who is dear or it may be of an event that brings intense emotions with it. Do I keep these images? Some are of people I hardly know, but they are beautifully shot or framed. Without the emotional value, do I keep these? Then there are the images which tell a story or ask you, the viewer to imagine a story. What if such an image is poorly framed or badly exposed? 

And then there is that concept of "Body of Work". An image may stand out or make sense, not by itself, but because of it fitting into a body of work. 

In the end, I tried to balance all of these issues while making my selections. 

I reviewed these first 500 selections and slowly isolating images by repetitive selection I honed my set down to 24 images. 

But now I am filled with angst. Are these really my best? What is "best"? Are these the ones I want to put out here for the world to see and judge? But what about all those other images that I really love? How can you judge the merit of an image without benefit of knowing the entire body of my images? 

I have to ignore these fears and just put myself, my images, out in public and accept the feedback I receive. The good feedback (i.e. constructive critiques, suggestions for improvement, questions of motivation, etc.) and the bad (i.e. "oh that's lovely", "I could have done that with my cell phone", "Who are you, you pompous prat", etc). 

Now here is an interesting discovery as I pursued this exercise. As to the matter of "style", I seem to favour B&W images over colour images. I have known all along that I have a "thing" for  B&W but I was not aware to what extent. Of my final set of twenty four images, there are NO colour images. I tried and tried to include a few colour images but they simply do not speak to me the way B&W does even though so many of my colour images are really lovely. 

I have found that I tend to prefer portraits and images with people over landscapes and still life images. Maybe this is all the analysis I'll offer and instead wait to hear your reactions to my set. 

I'm including all the images here in this blog posting and I'll put copies on my Farcebook and Flickr accounts. And I am going to print a book (probably via Blurb) of these for our own personal pleasure. 

I really do, honestly, look forward to your comments, whether just a "I like these" or some details of what you like or don't like. Please feel free to speak up. 

Isabelle SantiagoComment