Decisive moments


Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.
— Ansel Adams

Twelve is an arbitrary number — ten, fifteen, twenty, all are equally valid — but the idea is well worth considering. Now that we’re all more or less photographers, we each have many hundreds if not thousands of images sitting forgotten on our phones, tablets, laptops and other digital drives. How many of those are significant?

In my attempts to avoid my own potential black hole of digital images I tend to aggressively cull my photos, dispatching many to the trash can, labelling others with star-ratings, sorting and periodically copying what I consider the best of these images to external drives. This month, with time on my hands, I decided to take Adams’ words to heart, going back through my archives to select twelve significant photos from each of the last ten years — and to print them. Significant is a term that’s open to interpretation, which can and did vary as I applied it from photo to photo. Printing is an important last step in the process as it acts as extra filter while selecting images as you ask yourself: Do I really want to print this; is it worth printing?

Some years are easier than others; some are hard to whittle down to just twelve photos. Some projects deserve — and got — their very own dozen; some surprisingly don’t offer any notable photos at all. Then there’s the desire for the images — some of them, at least — to have a thematic or stylistic connection to each other. Still, this trip down memory lane is a satisfying exercise. It’s instructive in that I realize that maybe I haven’t been culling photos as aggressively as I thought. It’s interesting to see the progression of my photography through the years. It’s also nice as I look back to be reminded of my past; places, people, events, memories triggered by images of the many moments I decided to capture through a lens. The photos I selected all exist in various places online, many on the pages of this website, but it’s good in the end to have a small curated archive — 270 photos in all by the end of this year— of tangible printed images that I can easily reference and share with those close to me.

The photos here are my final selection — my significant crop — of photos taken in 2011. Ironically, I could only find half a dozen photos worth printing, but that year marked my return to serious photography and I was active for only the last few months of 2011. While they’re not photos I would necessarily rate today, it’s interesting that they all show photographic elements I still favor a decade later: urban landscapes, architectural textures, dramatic light, and interesting street compositions — a fascination with public space and people interacting with their environment.