When creating bodies of work, I see similarities between photograph and other creative works, such as music, novels and poems and plays. I guess that it can be argued a photograph is like a poem or perhaps a short story. I find myself thinking of comparisons to music, e.g. a musician will write a song and then it might be a single or part of an album. But now, how we access that recorded music has been changing, perhaps similar to how we are accessing photographs.
So while doing a recent road trip, I had an opportunity to listen to five hours of ColdPlay on XM (channel 50) and they kept bringing up & playing some of the songs that just did not make it, and what would have been the Side Bsongs. For those too young, that is the flip side of the “single” that carried the hot song of the moment. In the real old days, that was on a 45rpm record; the little platter, little spinner, the small licorice.
But it did get me thinking about the Side B photographs that I make. If I were to complete an exhibit or develop a book, there are the photographs that I like a lot but are a little weak (for me) with regard to the intent or emotional content. These are the photographs that make it through the first couple of edits, but not the last one. As the guys from ColdPlay said, what to do with all of these bodies of work??
Today, I think that with the large scale photo sites like Flickr, many of the Side B photographs can be shown and made available. Heck, I even post them on this blog, eh?
I think that the Side B photographs are not bad per se, as they still will make emotional connections with others, perhaps not as strong as we perceive they should. As an artist, I think there is still a lot of pressure to show your best stuff and the Side B photographs are usually not your best stuff. And I think one of the greatest values of a Side B photograph is a learning experience.
Why is this photograph weaker than others? What is missing? How did I miss the emotional or philosophical connection. There is something good about it, and what is it I still like that I kept it after a number of successive edits when I eliminated others? What was I trying to do that I came soooo close, but yet, it is missing that last little bit of magic?
And yet there still may be a place for those Side B photographs, so like ColdPlay, you have developed the image and now you have it on the side lines while you continue other things. Perhaps a new technology may come along to pull something out of the photograph that was latent but due to current technology, could not be found. For me, my film negatives are becoming wonderful and much better images with the current Photoshop CS3 applied to the scan files. Even my earlier digital images with some of the new refined layers in CS3 make a remarkable difference.
So here’s to making more Side B photographs as part of the learning experience, not that this is what you are trying to create, but when you just miss the mark, you can hopefully learn from it.
Best regards, Doug