Untitled, Mystery on the Plano Trabuco, 2018 copyright Douglas Stockdale
One of the nice aspects of belonging to a small photographic group that meets monthly is the opportunity to show recent work in order to obtain some feedback. Which is what I did last night with a mini-exhibit of five 16 x 20″ prints from my new project Mystery on the Plano Trabuco. Top line: very encouraging!
Having only started to develop the photographs for this project within the last couple of weeks, I have been using a couple of different options to create my mysterious images. Thus I wanted to see what these photographs might look like in a mini-exhibition format and to get some reaction to the project and work.
One update from the previous post is that I made a series of book dummy’s to evaluate how the images might work in this book design concept and it appears to me that I need to lean into a horizontal book design. To that end, all five images I exhibited, including the photograph above, were in a horizontal format.
It was interesting to me to be able to have these photographs under the exhibition lights and step back to visually assess the impact for myself in conjunction with the groups comments. I try to listen to the overall evaluation and not necessarily on the merits of the individual photograph at this stage of a project development. Perhaps unlike a MFA critique, the folks do not drill down on the pros and cons of each image in the context of my artistic intent, but if I listen carefully I can obtain an overall sense if the images are getting the emotional traction I am trying to establish. Which I think I did, as there were comments as to the mysterious nature of the images, the underlying emotional darkness and how some of the images gave folks the “creeps”. Nice.
Unlike some presidential folks in the WH, I will admit that there were photographs that both direct hits and other images that did not connect as well, if at all. The image above did resonate with the group as it was frequently singled out for comments. So two of the five photographs that did not work for them (or me in this context), one of which looked really awful, and for these two, I am going back to the drawing board; I will start over in how I manipulate these two image files.
In addition everyone was very pretty positive about this project and the manner I was choosing to develop the images. That or perhaps they are getting used to the wild and crazy book/project ideas I continue to bring to these group critiques. They also offered some great comments as to how the overall body of worked together, or how certain images did or did not look consistent or not in sync with my concept. And of course a few questions were made in an attempt to try to solve the Mystery. Wonderful feedback and a fun discussion.
I highly recommend that you find a small group of creative artist that you can share your work with and expect some candor in their evaluations and comments. I have found that this is a really nice reality check while developing a project or body of work.
So I guess that’s five steps forward and two steps back. Which is just fine for me! I consider this a really nice start for this project.
P.S. At the moment the photographs are sized at 16 x 20″ on 17 x 22″ paper and one of the members of this group, Marc Plouffe, provides professional printing services, so we are going to collaborate on how some of these images might look up-sized. First step is to evaluate a 22 x 28″ image printed on 24 x 30″ paper. So no statement as to sizes, editions and pricing of the project photographs at this time, but hopefully figure this out soon.