"There are two broad ideas about sharing photographs on the internet that I've observed over the years. The first is very traditional: only show your best photographs. The second conforms to what seems to be the internet standard these days: share, share, share, and share some more. There's no need for these polar opposites to compete, in fact they can compliment each other very nicely. A nice tight edit on a website, or preferably in a photobook is my preferred way of viewing a project. It's the best way to understand what the photographer is attempting to say with a body of work. But as a photographer, I'm intensely interested in how other photographers arrive at that edit. It can be a baffling process. Show ten different photographers 300 photographs and you're bound to get ten unique edits, and each could be compelling. Ultimately it comes down to the photographer and in the case of the photobook, the publisher.
I admire photographers like David who are willing to show the messy part of a project, the broad edit. I own his book Minor Collisions. It makes me jealous. He succeeds at many of the visual ideas and themes that I attempt but can't quite seem achieve. When I look at the body of work I'm able to see his visual thinking manifest in different ways. The patterns that emerge allow me to better understand the path he eventually took to arrive at his book. Ultimately as a photographer, I'm looking for clues about how this can benefit my own editing and eventually my own books. And this for me is the key benefit of another photographer sharing their broad edits and archive. Sure, they could keep it all a mystery, but for those of us pursuing our own projects and books, any flash of insight or understanding could be make all the difference in our editing."
When I and curator Steve Bisson started working on the book Minor Collisions, we wanted it to have its own specific narrative, but in order to make it easier to achieve that, I felt that it would be good to reduce the material to a somewhat smaller selection first.
I've spent the past two years piling up thousands of shots, staring at them for hours, and only then I started to search for those very thin lines that somehow tied them together, being confident that a multitude of small clues would lead to a more complex and definite framework.
This first selection was put together based on a variety of reasons, but all the images had to respect a certain mood and adhere to a personal vision. After that, one could be sure that any edit coming out of it would have been faithful to that vision too. Those two or three hundred images served as the foundation from which the photobook took form.
So the final edit of 40-something pictures might be inherently arbitrary – something we really wanted of course – but that doesn't leave much room for the viewer to make up their own stories from it. It's something that can't be compared to the possibilities that the complete body of work would give.
Showing this first selection is a small and very humble experiment in trying a different approach, which is obviously not meant to re-discuss the original one, but simply adds another layer of interpretation, partly taking the author and the curator away from the role of guiding the viewer, and leaving it to the latter instead.