Black + White 2016
Rodney Smith’s Juror Statement
In Stravinsky’s “Poetics of Music in the Form of Six Lessons,” he speaks of confronting a blank page of music as overwhelming and filled with dread. He states that only after he has picked a key and begun to compose, that he begins to feel liberated. The more restraint he was limited by, the freer he felt. And so began my mission of making subjective decisions on over 2,300 pictures.
Needless to say, it was not easy, nor necessarily enjoyable, placing my particular vision and aesthetic over many people’s efforts, but slowly a particular vision began to take shape.
Near the end of the selection process, as I began to hone down the initial entries to 165 photographs, I started to finally feel satisfied. Not only did I admire the assembly but vicariously, I admired those who shot them. By this time, you all had become my extended family.
Unfortunately, the guidelines dictated that I further reduce the final selection to around 50 photographs. I continued to edit. Each removal was torturous and difficult. In the end though, I must admit I liked my selection of 165 but I loved my final edit of 57. The more restraint that had been imposed on me, the freer I felt.
For me, this editing process is not unlike the shooting process. I choose the format and the constraints of its given viewfinder. I decide on film, with all it’s limitations. I position myself within the environment and move closer, or farther away, from the subject till it feels right. I am always looking and editing, choosing some things to include but more importantly, excluding others. As a photographer I am dealing with an enormous world, far larger and grander than the scale of a black and white print, so the picture making process is one large attempt at exclusion.
And so it goes with this competition, I took what I like. Not necessarily the best by anyone else’s standards, only my own. In the end, this group is superb.
Now for some quick thoughts…
1: Compared to times-past, the over-all selections were remarkable, probably due to the digital world of photography. It has certainly increased the technical ease of picture making, which has in-turn helped almost everyone. There is a problem though, because photography has become so facile and viable to the masses, the respect of those in the know is harder to obtain. I’m sure as times goes on, you will eventually have to deal with this.
- Photoshop is omnipresent. Although I do not, or wish to, use it myself, post production digitally processing is now ubiquitous in photography. Whether photography is what it once was, is definitely up for debate though. It seems more like illustration and the retouching process has almost replaced picture-making in importance. Photoshop, used effectively and carefully, is quite interesting and often beautiful, but photography today is obviously quite different than in years past.
- Almost all entries submitted were very serious in their intent and/or execution. What happened to humor and joy? Remember, laughing at yourself and the world around you is a profound and worthy exercise. Hold your head high to marvel at the majesty of life’s variety, and remember to laugh and find joy in the grand world we all find ourselves apart of.
April 13th 2016
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USE RIGHTS: Each artist retains all copyrights to their own images. Artist’s recognition is provided with any use. By submission for jurying, artists whose submissions are chosen for the exhibition grant The Center for Fine Art Photography the right to use their images for the purpose of promoting the artist, promoting the Center’s programs, promoting exhibitions and subsequent display on the Center’s website of current and past exhibitions. Promotions and images may also be placed on social networks for The Center for Fine Art Photography with artist credit. Artists grant the use of their image(s) as stated without further contact or compensation from the Center.