Thursday, January 01, 2015

Language, Use & Abuse

Our daughter brought to my attention an article about Lake Superior University's banned words list for 2014. I am in total agreement with their inclusion of "curated". In 2014 it became popular for some photographers to say they curated a specific body of their work rather than saying "I edited the shoot from my trip to (fill in the blank). At first I took it as a random oddity when I saw such references by photographers but then it started popping up all over the place.

Curators do more then simply select works to form a collection. According to "curator collects, cares for, researches, and interprets a collection, and organizes displays and exhibitions."

Note the parts about caring for, researching and interpreting. On the other hand what I and other photographers do is "edit". From the Bureau of Labor Statistics "Photo editors often work for a website, newspaper, magazine or book publisher. They're typically responsible for selecting, editing, positioning and publishing photos to accompany the text of a publication. Photo editors also might supervise staff photographers, give photo assignments and make sure that others complete their work on time."

When we review a shoot and select which photos to keep and which to toss, which to digitally edit in Photoshop and print or post to our blog we are editors, not curators. I get why photographers latched onto curate. Who wouldn't prefer the image of a sophisticated expert working in a museum environment to the stereotypical image of a newspaper editor (insert image of an older partially bald chubby guy wearing a rumpled shirt with the sleeves rolled up and his tie loosened). I really do get it, but let's be honest with ourselves. We're editors of our own work, not curators. Curating our work is the job of those who find and preserve it after we are gone.

While editing my photos from my last trip to the Paul Smiths VIC I selected these, at top and below, to publish in this post. Both were shot on the way home in twilight along Rt 458.

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