Every year I go through all of the images I shot and pick out the 10 I like best. It is pretty easy to get down to twenty or so, just by selecting all of the images marked as picks and then weeding through those. I pull out all of the ones of my family and then it gets tougher. It is hard, because there is no “right” answer. Our perceptions of any art, are personal and subjective. Usually I ask my family to go through my top 25 and make their picks, but that is more to understand what appeals to them. That might influence what and how I shoot next year, but rarely does it push me one way or another for what I include in my list. These three images wound up as my top 3 favorites for the year.
When I have completed my listing, I then try something even harder. In December, the Photoshop instructor and commercial photographer Jim DiVitale lost his battle with cancer. He hosted one of my favorite Photoshop World Events, which had nothing to do with Photoshop. It was a panel of some of the best photographers in the world, showing off their work. As the host, he included a portfolio of his work as well and it took me a while to grow to appreciate the quality and artistry of his stuff, as he shot a lot of pure commercial, often product based work. That’s not what I shoot, so I tended to just kind of skim over his stuff. One year, I really looked at his work and recognized how good it really was. http://www.jimdivitale.net/f169019865 and http://www.divitalephotography.com/#
At Photoshop World, they offer an opportunity to have one of the staff review your portfolio. As it turned out, I drew Mr. DiVitale and it was a very interesting experience. He took a look at my photos and said they were good work, but what story did they tell? We talked for the 15 minutes allocated on how to really put together a portfolio, and how you always need to be asking this one simple question—“Is this photograph good enough to replace one in my portfolio?” As a commercial guy and as an art director, he felt strongly that you need to show off only your best work, and that your portfolio, should have no more than 10 images. So every year, you should be asking yourself that question and if the answer is no, none of the images I shot are better than what I have already done, then you need to be thinking “why not?” If your work is not getting better, then what are you going to do about it?
That question is what drives me to keep shooting. Art is not a competition, unless it is against yourself. Can you capture what your mind sees when you look through that viewfinder? Are your pictures better than they were yesterday, last week, and last year?