Pick 5

Fever, 2007
[Note: due to being overwhelmed with child-rearing and work the Pick 5 challenge is temporarily off the table. Thanks.]

As any photographer knows editing is hard. Every show or contest seems to want a different number of images, anywhere from 1-20, and the sequencing of what goes together, which pictures to choose, etc. changes depending on the numbers. I find that things shift completely when I have to choose three versus five; with three there's the triptych quality to consider, but with five it turns into a mini-narrative. Then if they ask for twenty it's a whole different set of considerations, as I'm representing an entire body of work without showing the actual entirety. 

Hey, Hot Shot! just opened up for submissions after a brief hiatus (see details on how to get your work in front of this amazing panel here) and I need to pick three. I have my personal favorites, I have some new work I'm happy with, and I have two different series to decide between that represent different things (I also have a couple of other, older series that I don't submit anymore since it's work that I'm not as invested in presently). I was a featured contender on the Hot Shot blog in October for my photograph "Clouds" which was a nice nod of approval (though I've since completely reworked that image and it's looking much better if I do say so myself) but this go-round I'm a bit stuck. Certain pictures I love, but I worry that taken alone--without the larger series to ground them and give them a context--they might inadvertently come across as cheesy or sentimental. I worry about that with my work in general, to be honest. I think it's a danger that comes from shooting images of children. There's always the potential for the "cute" factor to come into play. 

For instance, one of my favorites is my photo "Fever." It's of Edie deeply asleep on the couch on a day when she was sick and had passed out in front of the TV. When I stared at her lying there, and then particularly when I got up close with my camera, I just wanted to cry because I felt like I could literally see her growing in front of my eyes, getting bigger, moving away from me. Even in that moment it was dream-like, already rooted in memory and not in the present. But if that was the only image of mine you ever saw, would you think, "that's nice" and move on? I actually did submit it to Women in Photography, because I decided I'd never included it in a lineup before, I love it, I'm just going to pick the pictures I have a deep attachment to and stop worrying about any possible misperceptions regarding my intent. Judging by the fact that I got in I guess I made the right decision! But with only three opportunities this time to "sell" myself, which direction to go? Frankly some days what I pick all depends on my mood, and of course I'll also tailor it a bit to what I think a particular curator is drawn to. Of course you never want to sacrifice your vision just to give someone what you think they want to see, but you also have to consider your audience. And you have to be careful not to overthink it sometimes--which is exactly what I'm doing right now...

So I have an assignment for you. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to pick five images from my website that you think go together in a cohesive way (even though Hot Shot needs three I'll save up the two extras for the future). Email the titles of the photographs to elizabeth@elizabethfleming.com, and include a link to your website; I'll send back my own edit of five of your images that I think are your strongest and form a good representation of your work. I'd like to know if there are pictures I'm overlooking that speak to a wider audience, and editing someone else's work for a change might help me see the whole paring-down process in a new light. 


this is a really great idea. I've always felt that editing and photographing were two entirely different art forms, and both just as important. I suppose photographing is just editing from life, but when presenting with a box of images, each person will make their own edit and come out with completely different bodies of work. I'm working more and more on my curation skills, and learning tons about the role of a curator as artist themselves.

Perhaps when you have more time, maybe later this summer, we could have a go at one of re-edits.

Always a fan,

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