I consider this my last good shot of 2012. I like how the graphic shapes, colors, and layout are being softend by soft, organic, moving, unpredictable flakes of snow. To see the rest of my best for the year visit Shutterfinger's Best of 2012.
Like most people, I get a few days off between Christmas and New Years Day. I spend most of my time relaxing with family and friends. I take a few photographs—again, mostly of family and friends. It’s also a great time to catch up on the novels I’ve wanted to read—“NW” by Zadie Smith, for example. That still leaves plenty of time for culling through each and every one of my photo folders, from January through December, and separating the wheat from the chaff. For those of you unfamiliar from this now archaic figure of speech, it means I separate the photos worth keeping from those that deserve to be deleted from my hard drive.
Yes, I know that hard drive space is cheap these days and that the incremental cost of not deleting photos is small. I know that editing photos can be a pain in the ass. I also know that having to wade through dozens of crap photos just to find the few dozen that give me real pleasure is no fun either, especially if I have to do it more than once. For me, editing my images is like editing my sentences: the fewer you use to get your point across, the stronger and clearer the statement.
Everyone’s approach is different I suppose, but for what’s it’s worth, here’s mine:
- I start with the images that obviously don’t deserve to live. I’m speaking mostly of the ones that even I, their creator, have no interest in: images that are out of focus, boring, repetitive, variations on other images, and pointless test shots. These are literally just wasting space and adding clutter. I delete them without remorse. (They can still be of great value though. It was while browsing through jusgt such a series that I noticed my 50mm f/1.8G Nikkor was back-focusing by a significant degree. I had to dial-in +10 of front-focus on my Nikon D7000 body just to bring it back to normal. More on this later.)
- The next category is hardest. These are the in-betweeners. They aren’t good enough to be great, yet aren’t bad enough to merit instant deletion. Many of my vacation photos fall into this category. They bring back memories of places I’ve been and events I’ve seen and the memories alone have sentimental value. I still delete a lot of them, especially if, after a few months later, the people, places, and events don’t seem nearly as interesting as they once did. I’m much more inclined to be merciful in this category if the images contain friends and family or something else of great sentimental value than not. In that case I think about whether they might be useful in albums or collections such as “Summer Surfing” or “Dee’s 50th Birthday.”
- The third category is, in a way, the easiest. I have a very clear sense of what I like in a photograph and which best express my visual style(s). Most of these photos have already been adjusted, cropped, flagged or rated in some way. I can instantly recognize them as one of my best, at least for the year, and why. With these I may adjust the rating up or down as time lends more objectivity. I also use them as a basis for reflection on how much my vision has grown (or not), new directions worth exploring, and whether certain images are better as part of a group or individually.
And that, my friends, is how I arrived at my “Best of 2012” collection. I invite you to give it a look and to comment if you feel moved to do so. I also encourage you to do the same. If you already have, send me a link. I can’t promise to post the link on Shutterfinger; then again, I just might. In either case, here’s wishing you a new year of photos that bring you joy and satisfaction.