I’ve been working on a Website redesign for more than a year now. My original approach–something you will still see if you visit the site, since I remain engaged in the process of working on the new look–was to present my images using an extensive gallery structure. I decided some time last year that this watered down the quality of the presentation, and was pondering the implementation of a portfolio design. I ultimately concluded that I didn’t necessarily have to make a choice, and have adopted a format that (hopefully) takes the best of both concepts.
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with anything. Believe it or not, there is some relevance to the title of this piece.
One of the reasons I decided not to simply dump the galleries on my website and go all-in with the portfolio style is that I realized that the vast, vast majority of print sales that I make through the site have been of images that decidedly would not be included in any portfolio that I would produce. The fact is that my Web-generated sales are very, very different than sales of prints that hang in exhibitions. The latter is exclusively made up of what I consider to be my best work–if for no other reason than I don’t exhibit anything else. But the Web…that’s another kettle of fish entirely. The Web is something much closer to a full catalog of my images, including a large number of shots that I wouldn’t ever produce prints of unless someone specifically asked for one. Thus, if I ditch the extensive galleries, I’d inadvertently be eliminating a significant percentage of my print sales.
But there’s more to it than that. Recently, I’ve sold a number of large prints based on Web inquiries and every single one of those sales has involved an image that would never see the light of day if I were to move to the portfolio style. I casually ask customers why they choose a particular image (if they don’t tell me without provocation) and invariably the answer has something to do with the place depicted, a theme that the setting inspires or a particular memory conjured up by the image.
The answer, in short, is that the image holds some sort of particular meaning to the individual making the inquiry.
While the specifics represented are often different, the overarching notion of meaning is what infuses me as well when I select my favorite images. All of my images conjure up memories for me–I can tell you a great deal about what I was experiencing when each image was made–but some hold more meaning to me than others.
All of the photographs accompanying this entry are among a broader set of images with special personal meaning to me. I don’t know that they are necessarily among my “best” images–most, if not all, probably are not, in fact–but each represents something more to me than meets the eye.
The same, in their own way, is true of images that resonate in a particular way with others. Something about some of these shots represents something significant to someone; an intangible notion; a feeling; a certain je ne sais quoi. And, that in a nutshell, is what an image of meaning is all about. It’s something I feel lucky to stumble across when it arises in me and a sense of wonder when one of my images produces that response in someone else.
So, to come full circle, that’s an opportunity that would be lost if I culled my offerings. I admit to wanting to selfishly experience that sense of wonder, vicariously, through the lives of others. In these instances, the images may be mine, but the special meaning is the fortuitous product of the richness of someone else’s memories.