How Many Photos are Too Many Photos
ComeAcross � Winnowing my photos Editor’s note: The best thing about a blog is that it’s *your* blog and you can write about erratic, crazy and obsessive things that nobody else cares about, well, maybe a few people care about, but most people don’t, but what the hey, it’s my blog.
My friend Raoul has a post up today about winnowing his photos. He writes that he recently whittled down his collection of over 18,000 photos to about 7,000. And he’s also deleted some photos in the past few weeks that he’s uploaded to Zooomr. He’s trying to be critical and writes, “If someone’s going to take the time to go through my photos, I don’t want them to see chaff, I want them to see substance.”
And so Raoul’s post makes me think about my own photography and in some ways my obsessive pursuit of quantity and why I feel the need to work as hard as I do at it.
I did a count tonight and my own stats look something like this. At present I’ve got about 177,918 images that I’ve taken stored on hard drives.
Of these 177,918 images, about 28,135 images are what I’d consider family snapshots. Private photos, not online, but of importance to me as a way of documenting my children (mostly) and other family members.
Another 12,113 are what I’d consider “fine art” (whatever that means). These are shots that I’ve processed and like enough to consider good enough to be a part of my fine art archive. Of these shots a little over 9,000 are on Zooomr and a little over 7,000 overlap on Flickr.
The remaining, roughly, 137,670 images that I have are what I refer to as scratch images. These are unprocessed images sorted by date in folders that serve as my raw material for processing. Frequently as I have time I scour these folders looking for images that I’d consider good enough for processing and then move them into my permanent fine art or family collections.
And that’s a lot of photos.
Of the 137,670 current scratch photos about 80% are just as I shot them from the camera. Like Raoul I’ve culled some. Not near enough of course though, but really obviously bad ones where there are major technical flaws or someone’s eyes or closed or whatever. I could cull even more but at present my time is worth more to me than disk drive space (I currently have over four terabytes of hard disk space).
I spent some time hanging out with my friend Dave Sifry from Technorati the other day (an excellent photographer and fellow 5D owner himself) and he said he thought that I shouldn’t delete anything, even the bad ones. Maybe Dave’s right and I should not even kill the worst of them. I mean even these can be turned into abstracts at times with the right photoshopping.
But then again maybe some just need to go.
My goal is to have 100,000 finished processed fine art shots before I die. I’m sure I’ll have well over 1 million scratch images. I shoot about 200-300 images on average each day.
Ultimately I want to turn my images into a art in a different way. I collect many things with my camera. Neon signs, portraits, self portraits, advertising, miniature toys, bridges, whatever…
One day I want to begin showing my photos in a gallery but in a unique way. I want to print all of my photos of a given subject out as 8×10 prints. Thousands of them. And then build collages of images with these 8x10s that fill large galleries. I want the gallery space to have no windows and a single door. You open the door and enter the gallery and every visible inch is covered with photographs of a subject matter. The ceiling, the walls, even the floor beneath a plastic or glass surface. Possibly the gallery would be set up with a living room (couch, table, chairs, etc.) and a television. The television would be rotating slide show of the images in the show (changing at one image per second). Perhaps the furniture itself could be completely covered in photographs. I’m not sure on that yet.
Along the way though I hope to share the work as I go while trying to get the best possible images that I can. I think a lot about what will happen to all these images when I die and especially the last moments of my life which hopefully will include a camera. But I could write thousands of more words about that and those words are best saved for another time.
Anyways, that’s what I’m up to with all this photography nonesense.
And thanks Raoul for your post.