Create: Q&A 010

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Bumper credit: Gledhill Back with more answers to more questions. One man, one opinion, take it for what it’s worth. I did not get through all the questions that have flown in over the past few months but I will, at some point. These Q&A films are what I refer to as stop-gap films, things I can do with very limited time. My goal of more complex, and perhaps more inspiring films, are on the back burner until I somehow find more time to work. (Not holding my breath.) Thank you to all of you who sent your questions.

Question one: 1:30, How about an AG23 update?

Question two: 4:00, Tell us more about box speed?

Question three: 7:58, How do you manage your digital archive?

Question four: 14:00, Is the real conversation about photography away from social and do agencies and clients also do this?

Question five: 19:30, If you could sit with any living photographer who would it be?

Question six: 23:00, How many prints are the right amount for a gallery show?”

Question seven: 25:21, What kinds of books do you buy and what are you missing?

Question eight: 27:00, Can photography be neutral and esthetic or will it always have aspects of protest or opinion?

Question nine: 28:39, How would you market and sell a Blurb book?

Question ten: 32:29, Do you think you should keep your best images from social media so they can be shared with revenue in mind or at a later date in book form?

Question eleven: 35:29, Do you have a favorite preset for Lightroom and who do you use the f/2 version of the Fuji lens instead of the 1.4 version?

Comments 23

  1. Your response about photo books confirmed a decision I had already made this morning. I had been investigating the process of a book of abstract-ish photography similar to Aaron Siskind type of stuff. Decided to go in a totally different direction this morning and create a series of zines instead. Cheap to create, easy to distribute to family and friends, plus an ongoing never ending project to keep me occupied until it burns out or I get tired of it.

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  2. 1/2 way in – this has been awesome. These just get better and better…getting into FWIW territory. I’ll probably add another comment later, but man – I’ve been using Lightroom for four years, and effective and efficient archiving still confuses the heck out of me. And I’ll go ahead and admit it – if the downstairs neighbor’s bone dry Christmas tree that they just can’t bear to part with brings my building down in an inferno, adios Scott’s photo archive. (I am trying to address that – let’s just hope I beat the clock.)

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      That is hilarious, kinda. The bone dry tree is SO scary. A friend in CA burned his mansion down with that very technique. Entire house was gone in 20 minutes.

    2. Oh man, that’s awful. I’ve always been “afraid” of live Christmas trees. My uncle was a NYC fireman – horror stories every year.

  3. I always enjoy the archiving discussions. Partly because they’re reassuring – I’m not the only one worried about it. I know my system is flawed. I have some vague ideas on getting to “good enough”. But that’s only one part of the equation. Working with the archive is another huge part of it. I’m going to violate a Shifterism and talk about a project I’m working on.

    I shot a lot of live music from 2016-2020 in the Pacific Northwest. It’s not great work…because I’m not a great photographer. But it’s work I’m proud of. I dumped all those photos in Lightroom over those years, well before I started guzzling Kool-Aid at the altar of Shifterism – print your work, even if it’s just one copy.

    Years later, I’d like to do a series of books/zines so I can get those photos edited (in the cull sense) and out of the virtual shoebox. I use a combo of Photo Mechanic (still not sure why) and Lightroom, and I know that I’ll never be able to rely on keywords for assembling projects from past work. I end up going photo by photo, which takes forever. I would love to settle on a system of collections and keywords as I go that would allow me to skip that slog.

    I’m sure there are people out there who are disciplined and make those retrospective projects faster. For example, knowing I shot music, I should have ruthlessly done something like keyword (music) + color label + 1 star for every image I thought I might want to print one day. Still, there are photos I go through now and think oh I skipped this one for some reason or ugh, that photo is actually pretty bad.

    Hmm, I may post this comment to my blog so I remember my train of thought. If any Shifter acolytes have suggestions, I’m all ears.

    1. Oops, did I break a comment rule by talking about a project on here? I am putting myself in timeout. I need a break anyway.

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    3. Hi Scott, in case this helps, I have landed on using ratings plus categories of who/what/where/when/why and then, depending on the image, keywords within those. Clearly, this takes some time but it has become part of my “flow” and helps me find things… The ratings help to hide those images that I know I am just emotional about and can’t get myself to delete. The categories help me find things within the remaining pile.


    4. Matt, where and how do you add the categories? Any chance of a quick example? (I use Photomechanic in combo with Lightroom, but LR seems to have stopped importing the PM metadata)

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      Print, yes. Good, good. The archive, so tricky. My system is flawed, entirely. Don’t do as I do, as they say. I have friends who are good at it but even then it’s a major feat to do it well. I have a friend who has a $100,000 archive system and even he is having trouble.

    6. My system is basically anarchy and chaos in equal measure, let the images fall where they may. As Dan exquisitely noted by quoting Roshi Bill Murray, “it just doesn’t matter”.

  4. Haha! This was a very humorous film this time! Really enjoyed it. I burst out laughing when you read out that last question too, not because it was a silly question, I just knew straight away what your answer would be. He / she must be a newbie to shifter!

    Also I really appreciate you crediting me but you really don’t need to. I’m like you, I would rather just fade into the background. They are a gift, and although I truly appreciate it I don’t need anything in return. I’m just pleased you like them, that’s enough for me.

    Thanks and looking forward to the next film!

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      You deserve it. I’m open to any and all questions. I hope I start getting more in regard to OTHER aspects of life but I probably won’t.

  5. That was the best one yet and maybe the first time I’ve ever laughed at a YouTube ‘photography’ video (the preset question).

    I’ve been following for years and I think your message has remained consistent. Basically: quit professional photography, get a life, and then take along a camera (and/or journal)..

    Being a recluse is underrated. I wish I were better at it.

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      I have friends who are good at professional photography. They make huge amounts of money, have entire teams around them. Full time assistants, retouchers, agents, agencies and full digital crews. But, that is not me. I don’t want those jobs and the jobs I would want don’t exist anymore. So for me, it was better to walk and enjoy life.

  6. Box speed.
    Well – when you start the box speed and development times given are probably what you should go for for most uses – it gives decent negatives.
    If you do not have a good reason to shoot otherwise stick with whats on the box.

    Finding out for yourself what the right speed is for you and the correct developer technique (mix, temp, time etc) involves experimentation and burning through quite a number of films and changing one thing at a time.

    As an experiment – shoot one film at rated speed, another 1/2-1 stop overexposed and a third 1-2 stops overexposed. Develop them the same – e.g in a Patterson tank that take all three film at once and compare the negatives.

    And – push development is in general a compensation for those times when there is not enough light – you cant increase film speed you cannonly use the development to salvage a often seriously underexposed piece of film – the result may still be “good” and sometimes give the look you want.

    A good resource to start with is the online database at – select film and developer and it will give you development times, mixing, agitation and temperature for different ISO settings.

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      Just like books. LOTS of experiments. I worked with TRIX in the darkroom from 1988 to 2014. I tried hundreds of combinations. That’s what it takes if you are looking for something specific. Others are happy just shooting box speed.

  7. Hi Daniel,

    Great video, every time I watch one of your Q&a’s it gives me new topics to ponder on in my head.
    (Plus, you make me laugh with your answer on ‘the lightroom presets’, seems familiar to me but than in a graphic design/illustration context with photoshop…)

    I also have a question:
    When you are attracted to an image or a work, are you more interested in the concept behind the image or just the image itself? I ask because I notice in the world of graphic design that people are often attracted to flashy concepts but lose sight of the visual aspect (e.g. strength of composition, structure, etc.). Do you feel this is the same in photography? I know that this completely depends on the work, I think it can be both, as an illustrator myself I tend to be attracted to the visual aspects of an image or work before I ponder on the concept of it.

    Curious to know what you think.
    Kind regards,
    Margo De Weerdt

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      Did you send me an email? I remember seeing it after I emailed with your dad but your email is gone. Please send again. The answer to this question is “both.” I first respond to the image itself. But if there is reason to wonder about the process I might then delve into that aspect. But the image has to work first. Photography is filled with. more people who want to know about the how than people who actually want to see the image. That has always been the case.

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