My idea of quality in regards to photographic works, has been pushed, broken, built up, challenged and torn down again, many times over the last few years. It's a good thing really. My line of what's acceptable as perfection is constantly redrawn and my expectations of what I wish to produce, and ultimately share with the world, are placed higher and higher. I'm continually amazed by the amount of potential great moments captured in a photograph that fail to deliver due to simple over sights in execution/presentation or technical merit.
I came across an interview with Jim Adkins of the band, Jimmy Eat World, in which they're discussing the cover photograph for their album, 'Bleed American', taken by William Eggleston. When asked what drew him to that image, his answer was this:
"...You can be smart about opportunities that may come your way, but your work is the only thing you can really control. Making something you feel is your best work is your only guaranteed success. You absolutely have to feel that way about your work or you aren’t done. You aren’t ready to present that work to everyone else. In Eggleston’s image there’s no reason at all for you to be impressed with whatever achievements those trophies represent. Just like any commercial success you achieve is fragile. You are very
lucky if a listener [viewer] can make a connection to your work. It’s something you should never take for granted."
Adkins, absolutely nailed it. It's time to start stepping up your game. No matter what level you're at. Be brutal when evaluating your own work. Take the time to learn, and hopefully master your tools. Process your files with a truly museum quality fine print as the end goal. Trash any over mats with even slight hooks or over cuts. Use a bone folder on your mats, it makes a difference. Use quality/archival materials (this includes paper/printers....especially paper/printers). Work in an appropriate environment. If that means you're using a digital darkroom, calibrate your [color accurate] monitor, profile your paper/printer combo and work in a dark room. And for the love of everything holy, spot your damn files! There's not much worse than seeing a great print fail because someone didn't take 10 minutes to clone out the sensor dust that enlarges to the size of a dime on a 30"x40" Silver Rag Print!
It's the sum of the tiny details that add up and make your prints something special. It's OK to obsess about your work. Really, it is. Just don't be a jerk, and others will respect and admire your work...Actually, if you're a jerk, they'll probably still respect your work, they'll just think your a jerk.
1/30 - 1/40 sec at f/4, focal length: 40mm, ISO 3200, Aperture-priority, -1 EV - 10 December 2010 6:09 pm PST. Photographed with Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF 17-40mm f/4L, hand held. Read More / View Exif / Purchase Prints...