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The Importance Of Printing And Showing Your Photographs
This past Wednesday I showed prints from my Big Woods SNAs project at the monthly meeting of the F-Stop Group. This group meets at the Minneapolis Photo Center. The F-Stop Group is facilitated by Tom Arndt and Sally Mars, both accomplished photographers. Perhaps I'm old school, but in this digital age when most of us only see our images on a screen, I still love looking at prints and I still love the process of printing. To me, a photograph isn't really complete until I've printed it. The rendering process of getting from the image on the screen to the printed image on paper is an essential final step in making a photograph real. True, you can show images in slideshows as I have done here, but there is a depth to a print that just can't quite be captured on a screen.
Printing your work leads right into showing your work. I attend two group meetings at the Minneapolis Photo Center that involve photographers show printed work, the F-Stop Group and the Photo Union League. Sally Mars facilitates the Photo Union League. This group revolves around monthly assignments, with most attendees showing work each month. In the F-Stop Group, a smaller number of photographers get on the schedule to show their work for review and critique. Typically, these reviews center on projects or a cohesive body of work. It can be daunting to show your work to a large crowd of photographers, but I find it is worth it. Just going through the editing process of deciding which images to show has value. It forces you to hone in on just what it is you're trying to convey through your images.
The most valuable benefit I find in showing my work is experiencing the reaction of others to my images. You can't really know what those reactions will be until you've shown your work. Certainly, as artists we want our work to create a reaction in those that experience it. The worst reaction is ambivalence. I'd rather have a negative reaction than an empty "meh." At least with a negative reaction, you can dig a bit to find out why the viewer is reacting the way they are. It could be that the constructive criticism is just what you needed to hear. It could also be that their negative reaction is based on a worldview that is dramatically different from yours, so in some ways that negative reaction helps you better define the edges of your work. The most fascinating reactions to me are the unexpected.
Here in the Twin Cities we have a terrific resource for meeting other photographers and showing work at the Minneapolis Photo Center. I hope that in your community you can find or create such a resource. Photography can be a solitary pursuit. There are times when we just need to pull ourselves away from the screen or viewfinder and go mix with others who are trying as we are to communicate the world they see to others.
Keywords: F-Stop Group, Minneapolis Photo Center, Photo Union League, Portfolio Review, printing, vision
Very wise commentary. Your father and I also like the printed picture. That's why we have albums of pictures that started out on the digital camera. We like to sit in our easy chairs thumbing through our favorite pictures.
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