Philosophy Culling and Curating

Location
Oregon Coast
Name
Andrew
I was just going through my Flickr account, culling somewhat mercilessly (for me... most viewers would probably survey the results and still find about half of it that could be culled out), as I periodically do. My Flickr usually remains around 500 photos, sometimes more, sometimes less. Flickr provides me with a long-term place to scrutinize my photos and the unconscious phases or trends I tend to fall into. I actually appreciate it for that more than for any "eyes" it brings in to see my work. Generally when I have photos up for a good while I can start to see whether I in fact like them or not. Sometimes it's a matter of my tastes changing, but, more often, it's a case of in-the-moment thoughts and feelings that surrounded the photo finally dying down, cooling off, and allowing me to see the photo abstracted from the experience. I find that to be a helpful way to collect and to cull.

Another happy accident is when I can see a through-line somehow in photos which were taken in a widely different time period or setting, or with much different gear. Whenever I see those things emerge it gives me the hope that I might one day develop a unique style. In a sense, the different photos converge together over time, as I whittle away the ones which stand in between them. I try not to make this a conscious part of my culling process, though. I don't want to "force" a style. When I do, I find that I'm really just imitating some other photographer's style.

How about you? Do you have a specific culling process? Mind you when I use the word I'm talking about something different than just deleting the bad photos, the ones which never worked. My curation centers around this slow culling process, but you may have a different way of putting together your photos. I'd be interested in hearing that, as well.
 

Iron

All-Pro
Location
New Zealand
Name
Tímo
How about you? Do you have a specific culling process?
Interesting thought.

Flickr's Camera Roll is very useful for such activity. I like the idea that everything is laid out for previewing in square format and sectioned per date. When I was actively using Flickr I just delete whatever I don't like on the camera roll page. Now, my Flickr account is used primarily for my macro work, so I can remove the ones I don't like easily. My macro work is published online mostly, so it's more like soft-publication.

Regarding my general work, I always keep whatever I shoot, except for the dark frames when doing flash photography and I use RawTherapee for archiving and assessing my photos. Adobe Lightroom is the benchmark for such archiving/organising but RawTherapee's per date handling of "film rolls" is good enough. That's just for organising my RAWs and JPEGs. By the way, I have set my Pentax to create folders per date, so I will just have to rename the folder for archiving.

My ultimate publication is with printing and I always have a theme whenever I create a set of prints or when doing a photo book. Culling is more like general filtering for this kind of activity. Our photos paint a lot of words so I choose carefully what I want to publish and make sure that the thought flow is consistent.

Whenever I see those things emerge it gives me the hope that I might one day develop a unique style.
We shoot for ourselves, at least if we are not doing pro work, so the style is already subconsciously there. You already have a style. You may not see it but your viewers, like us, do. Either consciously or subconsciously.
 

bdbits

Regular
I am terrible about getting my photos into a finished state and actually putting them in front of someone, even my wife. Thus, I have an embarassingly large backlog. But if I do think something turns out particularly well, it sounds silly but I will often set it as my computer "wallpaper". I actually don't see a bare desktop that often as I usually have lots of windows open, but I do see it now and then and on the lock screen. Seeing it day after day, I begin to notice details and compositional things I might not otherwise notice, oddly enough, and things that might look better tweaked a bit. If I don't like the image, I soon switch the wallpaper to the next one. And I generally look through archived folders (organized by year/month) now and then, and sometimes delete things but not often.
 
Location
Oregon Coast
Name
Andrew
We shoot for ourselves, at least if we are not doing pro work, so the style is already subconsciously there. You already have a style. You may not see it but your viewers, like us, do. Either consciously or subconsciously.
That's good stuff. However, something I've noticed about my own stuff is that I can unconsciously fall into imitation. It's easy for me to do, and I don't like it - I know it's good to imitate the art you like, but I have felt like it's time to move past that for a while now. So, part of my culling process is to recognize what's derivative once I've grown a bit more detached from it. I'm sure I have a style in there somewhere, but I think I'm finding it subtractively.
 

Iron

All-Pro
Location
New Zealand
Name
Tímo
However, something I've noticed about my own stuff is that I can unconsciously fall into imitation.
I think you just defined being inspired. :) We may somehow fall into what you have described a lot just because of how we consume media and photos nowadays. They're just everywhere. Some of our living photography legends are inspired by those before them. Daido Moriyama, for example, is inspired by the works of Jack Kerouac, William Klein, Weegee, Andy Warhol, the writings of Yukio Mishima and Edo era paintings, and the elements coming from those inspirations are written all over his work.
 

JensM

Top Veteran
Interesting topic! :th_salute:

I tend not to cull much other than the obviously unsharp stuff or "accidentally" taken ones, but then again my workflow really isn't up to much, more based around "intuitively" pushing and pulling levers in LR.

Then again, I came rather late to the RAW game, even if I shot it occasionally before 2016, so much of the take from 2002 to 2015 are JPEGs on P&S gear. I did try culling for a stint, but am glad that I had back-ups of the stuff, after it turned out that much of it wasn't un-sharp or faulty, but the then PC was lagging so much that it didnt get to load the pictures fully, before they where black-flagged and on to the next one that got the same treatment.

Then again, I am not a high volume shooter per see, yearly take in normal years are normally about 5K all in more lately, and can dab with the hoard as I see fit, storage is cheap, there are, if not gold, so silver and bronze to be found in the herd and I sometimes re-edit or edits years after the picture was taken. I really should set some goals for myself towards actually providing output, other than for SOME. :drinks:
 

Bart J D

Hall of Famer
I go through the set and give a star to what could possibly be ok. The files in the set have their keywords applied at this stage.
Second pass and go to two stars if applicable.
Look at groups and try to pick the one that represents that group best. The others go back to 1. This is based on details and overall look and is the most difficult stage for me.
I often pauze at this stage and come back in the next days.
When this is finished, I set the remaining files to three and go through them, demoting the files that I now find lacking.
I spread this process from the first step to the last over multiple days or weeks.
The files that "made the cut" go into a DxO PL Project and get edited. Occasionally, some more get removed from the Project.
Output to jpg and dng.
Next, I go through the dng files to decide which get converted to b&w. I still consider my b&w's as my "final output".

This is a hobby / passion for me, not a profession :)
 

Acraftman

Veteran
Name
Dan
I am incrementally working towards what makes me happy taking photo's. I gave up a few years back the thought that if I don't get it right in camera its a bad photo which brings up my processing ability. As time has passed and this is where the increment really comes in I am getting a little better at achieving what I thought the photo was going to look like when I shot it. I am always surprised when I look at a photo from a few years ago how much more pleased with it now that my editing abilities are improving.
I think another thing I have gotten a better grip on is culling. I know what is probably NOT going to look better in a couple of years.
 
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Location
Oregon Coast
Name
Andrew
I think you just defined being inspired. :) We may somehow fall into what you have described a lot just because of how we consume media and photos nowadays. They're just everywhere. Some of our living photography legends are inspired by those before them. Daido Moriyama, for example, is inspired by the works of Jack Kerouac, William Klein, Weegee, Andy Warhol, the writings of Yukio Mishima and Edo era paintings, and the elements coming from those inspirations are written all over his work.
Hmm, I think it depends on the personal creative process... for myself, I think when my mind is "inspired by" a favorite past photographer, my work ends up being a little too much like theirs, at least as far as I can make it so. Even when I am not trying to. It's like I put on a pair of glasses that filters what I see through the stylings of someone else. Even when I make good images that way, I can't say they are my favorite long-term. That's part of the service that culling does for me, by looking back over the photos that I thought were good, but which, to my mind, somehow came from a place other than me.

It might be a little bit like some authors being heavily into pastiche, accidentally. C.S. Lewis is a good example of this with his fiction. He was a bit of a chameleon who would be influenced by whoever he was close to at the time. The clearest indication of this was in his space trilogy, where the first two books, Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, were written when he was close to J.R.R. Tolkien and show it, while the final book, That Hideous Strength, was written after he and Tolkien drifted apart later on, and Lewis was more heavily influenced by the writer Charles Williams (who was more surrealist and metaphysical than the more grounded Tolkien).
 
Location
Oregon Coast
Name
Andrew
Interesting topic! :th_salute:

I tend not to cull much other than the obviously unsharp stuff or "accidentally" taken ones, but then again my workflow really isn't up to much, more based around "intuitively" pushing and pulling levers in LR.

Then again, I came rather late to the RAW game, even if I shot it occasionally before 2016, so much of the take from 2002 to 2015 are JPEGs on P&S gear. I did try culling for a stint, but am glad that I had back-ups of the stuff, after it turned out that much of it wasn't un-sharp or faulty, but the then PC was lagging so much that it didnt get to load the pictures fully, before they where black-flagged and on to the next one that got the same treatment.

Then again, I am not a high volume shooter per see, yearly take in normal years are normally about 5K all in more lately, and can dab with the hoard as I see fit, storage is cheap, there are, if not gold, so silver and bronze to be found in the herd and I sometimes re-edit or edits years after the picture was taken. I really should set some goals for myself towards actually providing output, other than for SOME. :drinks:
I think re-editing is a great thing. I've been able to "find" some images I really like by going back and changing some of the (usually more heavy-handed) editing I've done in past years. Editing is definitely part of my creative vision, so it makes sense that as things change, editing style changes as well. Of course, technical proficiency is also a part of that. I'm a slow learner.
 
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