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In honor of
Gilles Peress & Beaumont Newhall
Taken in part from my forthcoming artists’ book:
Presenting Photography to Curators and Museums
When someone Google’s your name, only your best images and projects should show up. When a curator looks up your name, you don’t want them to see your non-professional work that you may be ashamed of. Or worse…junk from other photographers mixed in that could be mistaken for your work.
Don’t make the mistake that many photographers do by diluting a portfolio with lots of garbage and personal photos. They will have 20 versions of a so-so photo on Flickr. Just pick one photo. It looks like the photographer doesn’t know what they are doing. It looks like they are using the ‘shotgun approach’ in away that is hurting them, saying “Here, I don’t know if any of these are any good…you pick.”
Now, if your goal is to get ‘likes’ and ‘thumbs up’ then none of this matters. But if you aspire to be above that, if you’re serious about getting your work in museums and public collections – then what you present professionally matters a great deal.
Be careful where you leave online comments if you’re using your real name online or an account that is connected with your name. While it is nice to encourage upcoming photogs, the other person’s photos will show up on your image and web search. I don’t want their pix showing up on a search of my name. So, I had to stop that practice.
Here is an example. I left a comment on a blog and now his photo shows up on an image search for my name. (See photo circled in green.)
Click on photo to enlarge
I like his photo and it is not a hardship on me to have his image show up in my search, still it confuses things. Even worse, I don’t want an image search of my name to show up lots of bad work that is not mine and dilutes my portfolio. It also works the same if you have your images used by others. Their images can show up in an image search for you and your images.
I made the mistake of putting some of my lower end photos on Wiki Commons. Someone used it and did a bad job on exposure and now it shows up in an image search of my name. (See the photo circled in red.) Same with another person that chopped up one of my photos. The butchered photo shows up in my search.
This is what the photo circled in red should look like.
You want to keep a body of work focused and not all over the place…be consistent. My work in 104 museums and curated collections around the world. When a curator looks up my name I don’t want them to have to sift through lots of junk and be turned off. So keep a clean and focused profile with Google, Bing, AVG and Yahoo.
If you don’t have focused portfolios, make them. I have 45+ Tumblrs. Every project gets a Tumblr of its own. Some photogs on Flickr have thousands of pix and no focused portfolio. You will lose a curator right there. No one is going to spend half a day looking through your work. A focused portfolio is a must.
You should be Googleing your name every week and looking at the images and searches connected with your name. If you don’t like what you see…change your M.O. Also have a complete BIO or CV easily available on the net. Don’t make the curators work too hard. A search of my name produces my bio first thing.
A nice touch is to offer an illustrated bio as well as a text version. Not many artists using this technique.
Infrared flash photo
I see some websites where the photog was trying to be cute by designing an ‘artsy’ website. Some of them are very tough to navigate and are soooo slow. I just give up after a short time before I move on. No shortage of photog websites out there to view. Make it easy for curators to like your work. No one cares about your cute website if it does not work.
Some photographers like to do testing or illustrated tutorials online. In the beginning I used any old photo for the tests. Like clockwork the low end test photos started to show up in my search results. So, if I do any testing that is connected to my name I use decent photos now or I post results anonymously if I don’t want the photos to come up in my search results.
A comparison test of a silver gelatin print versus an inkjet print.
Left vintage silver gelatin print on Agfa Brovira paper 1972. Right inkjet print on Hahnemühle Ultra Smooth Matte paper 2012.