Chris Verene: "Camera's don't take great pictures, cameras take faulty pictures. Its editing that makes pictures great."
Jason Fulford stated that editing comprises about half of his artistic practice.
And me, I've become one of the hundreds of gate keepers across the country. We're called art dealers. What collectors, museum types, etc. don't get to see are the hundreds and hundreds of submissions that a dealer receives, solicited or not. I have become another editor of sorts.
Photography collectors may not realize is how massively edited the work is that makes it to their eyes. There are filters on top of filters, whittling down an enormous number of photographs vying to be called art. And as as often as not its the marketable ones that make it through. This is different than the best of the lot, although I will admit that despite the filters, I firmly believe that the great art still makes it through. What is unfortunate is just how many very good pictures get edited right out of art history because of one person's filter, valid or not.
As a result, I have put back on my collectors had and now look for the finest photos I can find, by famous people or not, rare or not. I just want the great images. A perfect example accompanies this post. The photo is by Joel Preston Smith and is a masterpiece of art-journalism. The piece is captioned "A US soldier swims in the south fork of the Euphrates River, Ar Ramadi."
To start: the photo is both a portrait and a landscape. Plus the point of view shifts from looking down at the soldier to across the water at the landscape. The soldier is right a the location where the Euphrates splits and this is apparent in the flow of the water.
Further, the water on either side of the soldier looks more like camouflage than water, reinforcing the subject matter of the image. There is also a cross-hair formed by the water directly in the middle of the soldier's head. Finally, the color change in the soldiers eyes matches the color change in the water. Its these elements, intentional or not, that make a photograph great. And this is a great one despite the fact that the artist is not well known (okay, he has a book published on this series) and will likely never see the walls of a museum (okay the Houston MFA owns a copy). And the best part: $325 framed from 23 Sandy in Portland.