Being a curator of one's own work

"Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop."
- Ansel Adams

Nothing is more convincing about the quality of a piece of work, than the test of time.

It's something I always think about when I finish working on a set of new images. 'Wouldn't it be great if I'm still happy with these images in many years to come', is something I always wonder. And each year as I move forward through life I find that I change, and my impressions of what I have created also change.

 Isle of Harris. Image was shot in 2014. I'm still very pleased with this image, yet it is now three years old. I wonder, will I still feel this image is relevant for me in a decade's time? Does it have staying power for me?

Isle of Harris.
Image was shot in 2014. I'm still very pleased with this image, yet it is now three years old. I wonder, will I still feel this image is relevant for me in a decade's time? Does it have staying power for me?

Ansel Adams is quoted as saying "Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.". But even with those 12 images, there may have one or two that would become part of your canon: work that you would still be proud of in years to come.

It should be something we all aspire to.

Going out there to make images is only really one tiny part of being a photographer. We also have to curate our work. Curation is all about raising you family of images to be the best they can be. It is an on-going process of returning to your older work to review and select, to help those older images live with your newer work. Our older work isn't static, unchanging. We change towards it and as we do, we must also reflect and review and understand its place in our present. I've found that it is hard to gauge my work until a few years has passed, because it is only then that I see one or two images that seem to stand the test of time, and stand out over everything else I have shot.

I think as time goes on for me, as I am getting older, I am now starting to think of what I do as a record of who I was at a certain time. I now understand that some of them have more staying power than others and some have become really important to me as time has passed.

We should all be curators of our own work. We are responsible for collating, documenting, and organising our past so that it can sit alongside our most recent work. We have to tend our garden well and look after not just the new buds, but also the established ones as well.