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Curious Frame - Issue #10 - On Curating

Curious Frame
Curious Frame - Issue #10 - On Curating
By Leanne Staples • Issue #10 • View online
To everyone in the Northern Hemisphere, Happy Winter Solstice! The solstice refers to the time when the Sun seems to stand still. The word itself means to come to a stop. Yes, the Sun is the center of the universe and it doesn’t really stop moving.

Here comes the sun, doo da doo doo
Here comes the sun
It’s all right
It’s all right.
George Harrison, The Beatles Abbey Road

What better time to reflect on the past year than now? Immediately after the solstice the daylight hours begin to lengthen and that is certainly something to celebrate if you are a photographer that prefers to work with available light like me.

It is as if a reset button has been activated and that it’s time to start anew. Before starting anew, it’s important to look at what came before. Hence, now is a good time to curate your year in pictures.

So this issue is about the process of curating your photos from this year and also the photos taken by others that you have purchased as prints or books. What would you like to remember? We are always choosing our memories.

Happy Holidays and wishing the best for a fabulous New Year to you and your loved ones!

Readers comments:
Bring on the dialogue! So much of the digital world is like a message in a bottle and hoping that it will reach someone. It can be a bit difficult creating a conversation in the digital world.

Curious Frame isn’t just about me pontificating on my experiences in photography. It exists to create a dialogue. Here are some recent comments about Issue #9 Is Instagram Killing Photography?

One reader wrote a very lengthy manifesto. Here is perhaps the most relevant section in relation to the previous issue. That said, there are a number of other topics that it addressed and will be written about in coming issues of Curious Frame.
I am not going to say that this causes photography to become trivial, but it may be contributing in a certain way, and that is what in a few years time we will be able to review and talk about it again. Only time will tell!
On a platform that shows so many things, we have to be able to choose what to see, it happens on TV, in the newspapers and here we don’t even talk! Separating the chaff from the wheat says a saying.
Another reader had a short and sweet response:
Enjoying reading your news letter. 
And another:
Great issue, echoing many of my thoughts about Instagram and art in general. Lots to think about.
I am very happy to receive your contributions to the dialogue. Keep them coming. Even a simple appreciation is good. You don’t need to be a scholar to share. All you need is an opinion and hit the reply to respond. Very simple indeed. It’s cool how some have anticipated upcoming newsletter topics!

And if you are looking for previous issues of the newsletter you can find them at the link below. Thank you for reading and contributing! Feel free to share with likeminded people.
Curious Frame | Revue
On East 58th Street, New York City, 17 December 2020. This is a street photo with one of my street photos in the background at 600 Madison Avenue. It is a curated collection of my photos.
On East 58th Street, New York City, 17 December 2020. This is a street photo with one of my street photos in the background at 600 Madison Avenue. It is a curated collection of my photos.
On Curating
To curate things, literally means to care for them and to create a collection of those things that are important to you. This can include just about anything that you collect. But for the purposes of this newsletter we will talk about photography.

A curator in a museum or gallery typically has a degree of sorts and a vast knowledge of a particular period in time or a style. But don’t worry about that. There won’t be an exam or a critic judging your collection. Your opinion is valid and it’s all that matters when gathering your own gallery of work.

Before I go any further, it should be known that the word curate goes back to circa 1382, when the noun was used to describe a spiritual guide, one who cures.

A curator then was a person who was charged with the curing of souls. (Yes, art is also capable of curing souls.) Then in 1661, the first known use of a curator as the person in charge or works of art for a museum came into existence. And the word curate comes from the French word for the heart, coeur.
Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon, November 2009.
Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon, November 2009.
Okay, so that’s me diving into etymology again. Between language and images there is much to discover below the superficial facade. There’s more going on there. You just need to dig a little bit.

It’s a good time to slow down as the winter months set in. To find some indoor activities to focus on. In other words, a great time to get lost in photos.

Perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks of digital photography is that it’s too easy to amass thousands of images. We can look at both how we organize our photos that we’ve taken and also those books and other media that we have or would like to have, those things that inspire us.

Yes, I take so so many photos. But I also collect books, zines and prints by other photographers. It truly is how I find inspiration. It is also how I gain permission to break out of creative ruts and try out different things.
A collection of a few of the books that I purchased this year or were given as gifts.
A collection of a few of the books that I purchased this year or were given as gifts.
I sell my photographs, prints and zines and I think that it’s important to also purchase work by others. It is a two way street! If the work of another photographer inspires you then it’s good to purchase their work for yourself or to give to others.

This might be even more important during the pandemic. We need things to distract and amuse us during these challenging times and to support the livelihood of artists, especially independent artists.
I’m not a musician. But I adore music of all kinds and I think that my ear for music is good enough to hear where musicians have borrowed riffs from. The good ones do that but they also make it their own. The same holds true for of all of the arts. In fact, the arts are always a dialogue with the past.

Good artists borrow, great artists steal.
This quote might have been stated by Picasso or Warhol.

I have written on a few occasions in my Shoot New York City newsletter about some good tips for organizing your digital photography. But here I’d like to stick with print media and a finer appreciation of photography
Can you tell the difference between this photo and the opening photo? This is a scan of a print. Something gets lost when digitizing a photo. But when you see a photo on your screen and hold a copy in your hand, the difference is more obvious. There is a slight purple hue to this photo that occurred either in the printing or scanning process. It isn't obvious in the print.
Can you tell the difference between this photo and the opening photo? This is a scan of a print. Something gets lost when digitizing a photo. But when you see a photo on your screen and hold a copy in your hand, the difference is more obvious. There is a slight purple hue to this photo that occurred either in the printing or scanning process. It isn't obvious in the print.
Yes, you can find photography everywhere on the internet. In my opinion, the internet is fine for discovering. But the true savoring of photography or the arts in general is in the pieces that you can hold in your hand or hang on your wall. Perhaps it could be compared to fast food versus fine dining. There’s a time and place for both.
As we head into the new year, it’s a good time to look at the photos that you took and to have a good sit with them. Do you print your photos? 

I photograph to see what something will look like photographed. Garry Winogrand

When Garry Winogrand made that statement, he had to print his photos to see them. It was before computers and digital photography. Some things still hold true.

I am no master printer by any means. But for quite awhile now, I’ve been printing out the occasional photo. Not with any particular intention except to actually see how they look. They do look different printed. Probably better.
It Snowed on Wednesday, New York City, 17 December 2020
It Snowed on Wednesday, New York City, 17 December 2020
It’s fun to sit down with some good music and go though photo albums or books and just get lost in it all. The experience of a physical photo is so very different. When was the last time you spent some quality time with photography?

You can also choose to have your photos printed or even make a book of your photos. There are so many possibilities. And there’s still a magic in photography if you give it a little extra time. (That was a reference to Issue 7 The Thrill is Gone?)

I’ve also been really interested in the concept of time capsules. I guess the year 2020 will go down in history like very few other years in recorded history. Some people have kept pandemic journals of sorts with their photos.

There are many different ways that you can collect and curate your photos. Our photos tell a story about who we are. They translate the world into our own language. It can be helpful to recall and understand it all.
Masked in Midtown, New York City, 17 December 2020
Masked in Midtown, New York City, 17 December 2020
But I stress that you don’t need any special education to be your own curator. Oh, by the way, the feminine form of curator is curatrix! Sounds pretty cool. I guess that’s me.

When you add hashtags to an image, you are in a sense curating it. And not to lead you on a digital path, but Pinterest is nothing more than a method of curating. I’d be happy to hear about your method of curating your photos.

So happy holidays and happy curating.
Photography Is - Part Four
Embrace the Absurdity, New York City, December, 2019
Embrace the Absurdity, New York City, December, 2019
Seeing happens on levels.
It doesn’t take language to see.
but it can take time to have a deeper sense for a photo.
It is also necessary to develop a photo to see it in its true light.
To judge its merit.
Reading List
I am trying to figure out a good method to share a reading list that will be updated on a regular basis. It might have to be Google Docs.

At the moment, here are a few books that I have read, am reading or just skimmed for content!

  • Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, Hill and Wang, 1981.
  • Cartier-Bresson, Henri. The Mind’s Eye: Writings on Photography and Photographer’s, Aperture Foundation, 1999.
  • Jurgenson, Nathan. The Social Photo: On Photography and Social Media, Verso, 2019.
  •  Levi Strauss, David. Photography and Belief, David Zwirner Books 2020.
  • Michals, Duane. Foto Follies: How Photography Lost Its Virginity On The Way To The Bank, Thames & Hudson, 2006.
  • Sontag, Susan. On Photography, Anchor Books, 1973.
Further Viewing & Exploring:
The story of Otto Bettman and his archive of 11 million photos is very interesting indeed. That may not seem like much by today’s standards as at least 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day.

But this one man could be considered a photographic curator par excellence. His collection is all analog and was created before digital photography. He preceded Getty Images by decades as the place that newspapers and magazines went to source images.

This video is really just the tip of the vast information available about this project. It should also be known that Bettman had an elaborate system of keywords that also precedes our use of it in digital matters.

I believe there is another longer video out there that is better than this short video and there is a vast amount of information on him. He escaped Nazi Germany and smuggled a number of photos with him.
Corbis | Iron Mountain
Indie Shopping
If you are interested in indie shopping, below are a few places where you can find my works.
That Other Space Shop – Art, Etcetera
Shop for Art, Zines & Publications - Leanne Staples
You can also find me at
Artist, Photographer & Writer - Leanne Staples
Walking Photo Tours & Street Photography Workshops in New York City
Did you enjoy this issue?
Leanne Staples

In a world that is overpopulated with images, Curious Frame is where I share my thoughts on photography. It is always about ‘seeing with new eyes’.

I’m Leanne Staples, a photographer, artist, and writer living in New York City. Street photography and lens-based art are my passions, and Curious Frame is where I’ll be sharing my thoughts on these passions.

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