Hopefully, I will start having more time to update my blog. For the past six months, I have been working on creating a new website. When I started this project, I did not realize how long the entire process would take; from conception to getting one portfolio online. I was hoping that by the time the web designer finished that I would have had three portfolios ready to go, but this is not the case. Overall, this has been an exciting process for me; revisiting older work, editing, and sequencing, yet, I found the process to be quite challenging and time consuming, making one change after another.
The most challenging decisions, however, were the ones with the smallest details, but unchangeable; like the domain name. I struggled with this for at least a month or two, just trying to decide what the domain name should be. I was debating between several different names, and whether or not there should be a "photo" or "photography" related word. Quite a few suggestions were made to me by those I frequent with at cafes, and in passing conversations. Their suggestions were to create a domain name that is short, easy to remember, and to add the word "photography," which is a little difficult to do when you either have such a common name, or a long name already. The domain name that I eventually decided was the least popular by those who offered their advice; they don't know yet, but will find out soon enough that I did not adhere to their advice. Hopefully, they will understand that I had good intentions when I asked them, and won't be too offended.
Additionally, I found it quite difficult to write a bio. It is such a personal thing, and how many people really care? A lot, of the bios that I viewed, seem to have the same formula, name, accomplishments, education, awards, and clients. Please don't get me wrong, these photographers should be proud of their accomplishments, awards, and clients that they worked hard to impress, as it can be challenging to gain a client's trust and respect, especially if they have never worked with you before. In the end though, I would like to think that it just simply a matter of what kind of person you are; are you human?; do you really care about the plight of others-their happiness, their sadness, their stories. Certainly the photographers work that I viewed all seem to deeply empathize with their subjects, who allowed them in their lives to be photographed, but it did not come across in some of their bios, and awards or client lists cannot always reveal such details.
The other challenge that I faced was that I only had one portfolio ready to go up on the website. I really wanted to have a minimum of three portfolios, however, knowing how much I love to procrastinate, I knew that if I waited any longer, it would take another half a year before the website would go live. The same friends who offered their suggestions for the domain name, bio, and a few of the other details, also suggested to go live with just the one portfolio, and continuously and religiously, update the website. So, I am currently working on two additional portfolios; Hong Kong, and new edit and sequence of my work on Tibet. I hope to have both projects up and running by the end of April, but knowing myself, chances are I will only have one up.
The last challenge that I am faced with, is that I have about 15 years of photographic work, and all in the form of negatives; no digital files of any kind. So, I have been experimenting with either having the negatives scanned, or printing them in my darkroom, then scanning the prints. I have found that the having the negatives scanned, then editing and sequencing them is a much quicker process for me than printing fiber base prints, and then scanning the same prints. However, printing the images and then scanning them is more satisfying for me, which I also believe, renders a more beautiful aesthetic, even for the web, especially since my printing skills are greater than my photoshop skills. I find that I can bring out the slightest details or tonalities that I would never seem to be able to enhance otherwise. On the flip side of this, I had one severely damaged (scratched) negative, which wound up being one of the key images (image #2) for the current portfolio on Hansen's Disease (Leprosy). Because of photoshop, I was able to remove all of the scratches from the negative, and this was something that I was never able to accomplish in the darkroom with that particular negative before. By the end of the day, I had a choice to either move quickly on adding portfolios to my website by scanning the negs, or really taking my time, and printing fiber base prints, and scanning them. Depending upon how the scanned fiber base prints of Hong Kong and Tibet appear, this will determine the process for how I build the rest of the website.
I don't really have much insight as to which one is better; I am simply more accustomed, and enjoy the process working in the dark than I do in the light.
My next article will be more about the Hansen's Disease project; an old article from "Life" magazine about Carville and some of its patients, some of the images that were edited out of the photo-essay, and hopefully an interview from a former resident of Carville.
I hope all is well in your part of the world.
Saturday, March 28, 2009