My work is loving the world
A photographer's portfolio is a love story. In its pages are the elements of a romantic saga: nostalgia, desire, challenges overcome, and longed-for places that now only exist in a photo. But as Edna St. Vincent Millay reminds us, "Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink / Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain," and a photographer must sooner or later break away from the embrace of his or her work and adopt the dispassionate task of an editor. To do otherwise is to follow the path of Narcissus, lost in love with a mirage and ultimately doomed.
Avoiding the temptation to add just one more photo to a portfolio is the photographer's worst burden. There are always photos that stand on their own merits but can't find a place in the flow of a collection. They are outsiders. And for the photographer, exiling them to the dark corners of the hard drive is a heartless, difficult job. This is why we often turn to professional editors to evaluate our work from a distance and with experience tempered by the marketplace. Services like Eyeist.com and Wonderful Machine will take a large group of photos and cull them into a coherent presentation. It's a little like hiring someone else to slaughter your hand-raised chickens.
I've been thinking about this while putting together a web gallery from a recent trip to India. Unlike a book or a magazine, a website has no physical limit to the number of images you can show—they can, and often do, go on and on and on. But the online audience is not infinitely forgiving of the photographer's indulgence, at least not according to my analytics. On the web it seems that more than two dozen images strains their attention.
And that's why we have blogs—for outtakes. If you can't strain your audience's attention on a blog, what good is it?
I'm not certain that the portfolio is finished, and perhaps on the web portfolios never are, but you can see its current state here: New Work from India.
… and a few of the photos that for various reasons didn't make the cut:
Evening at Nizamuddin Dargah
Outside the Jama Masjid
Family Portrait, Ranchi
Mutton, before and after
Delhi protester in tribal dress
The Jama Masjid
Outside the Taj Mahal
Old Delhi Vegetable Stand
Market offerings & Chicken Parts