I recently started thinking about setting up a web page or online portfolio of my work. Not because I see a pressing demand from the world to see my photos. Much like this blog, it's more a way to organize my thoughts and think about my photography, and ultimately to grow as a photographer. Mainly, it is a chance for me to see my own photos in an organized fashion on a regular basis. I've got thousands of digital images sitting on back-up drives, but rarely look at them. The pictures of family, vacations, etc get printed as 4x6 snapshots and added to our photo album collection. I also do some larger prints of my other images, but with the exception of a few hanging on the wall, these too eventually get stuffed in a box or portfolio in the closet and rarely see the light of day.
What I have been doing with those larger prints for the last year or so is posting them to a viewing board (this isn't an original idea; I think I first read it over at TOP). My board is a large magnetic white board in the den where I stick up recent prints for evaluation. Every time I sit down at the desk I can glance up and look at the images that are there. 'Living' with prints this way helps bring out which I like and which I don't, understand what works or what doesn't in a particular image, and so on. It gives me chance to see where I'm going photographically, am I improving, am I working in a new direction, etc. Images stay there for a few days, weeks or months depending on how much I'm printing and if I'm still trying to figure out a particular image.
The problem is that the wall is only so big, and I can only post a few images at a time. And printing can get to be pricey given what Epson charges for their ink these days. So I thought an online portfolio would be a good way to 'tack up' a larger number of images to look at on a regular basis, evaluate, etc. It would also be an exercise in organizing and arranging my photos along themes, projects, and so on. It could be used much like the viewing board. I'll post new, promising images on a regular basis and live with them there for a while. If they stand up to the test of time, they'll stay. Otherwise, I'll delete them. I don't plan on turning this into a portfolio of thousands of images, and expect to ever have more than a few hundred at any given time. And if it gives me a way to get more people look at my work and maybe offer feedback, then all the better.
Anyway, after that long winded introduction, the site is here. I've 'seeded' it with some older favorite images and a selection of newer work as well. I have learned a few things already from this exercise:
1) For someone who, when asked what kind of photography I do, long replied 'landscape and nature', I don't have many landscape images I think are worthwhile. I have problems composing a good image that stretches from the foreground to the background. Which can be seen in the selections I made, as they tend to be water reflections or panoramic crops. No foreground to worry about.
2) Figuring out how to organize the images was rough. Just when you think you've got it licked, up pops the exception to the classification scheme. Hence the 'Odds and Sods' cop out. And where does sand belong? 'Stream, Sand, Surf'? 'Abstract & Patterns'? Somewhere else?
Lets just say that the organization will likely change along with the images as time goes on.
3) My subject matter has tended towards the abstract and detail over the last year, as opposed to straightforward documentary and scenic photography. I kind of knew that, but how much so didn't hit me until I starting putting together some of my newer images.
See, worth the effort already.