It’s obvious I know, but I sometimes forget. There is no point in spending time working up a photograph (or posting one to social media) if the image is weak.

That’s exactly what I have just spent this afternoon doing. I decided to experiment again with paper negatives. I took a negative of a woodland scene, printed it under my enlarger using a rough split-grade technique, developed the picture, fixed, washed and dried it (with a hair dryer), then contact printed through it to develop a paper negative. I then toned this to change the tonal balance a little, dried it and contact printed through it again to give me a positive. The process from start to finish took 2 hours. The problem was that the image didn’t deserve the effort. So, even if the technique had worked well, which is debatable in this case, the picture as a composition was bland with no message or point of interest.

I see a lot of this kind of thing on social media, particularly in alternative process photography circles. I have been guilty too. It’s as if the difficulty of a technique exempts us from implementing the basics: composition, point of interest, emotional pull. It’s as if we think that playing with a poor image will make it into a good one.

So, a resolution for 2022.

  1. Do not take a photograph that is not capable of moving someone.
  2. If I do take such a photograph, (very likely!), do not print it up.
  3. If I do print it up, resolve to only taking photographs that are capable of moving someone
  4. Etc.

Quality rather than quantity. A good thing to aim for, I think, but so easy to say, so hard to do.

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