In Praise Of The Contact Sheet

The progression of a series of images when viewed on a contact sheet is an interesting way of understanding a photographer’s way of seeing. Years ago I arranged to see a photo editor at a new magazine and when I spoke on the phone they asked me to bring contact sheets and not a portfolio. I asked why and they said they were not interested in my ‘best images’ but more in how I shot a series.

Tel Aviv © Stewart Weir 2010

The image above and below were shot on the beach just before sunset. The image above shows a girl walking her dog to the right of the man on the left and the image below shows the girl. A contact sheet shows the process of creative thought and choice of angles when a photographer shoots. Its almost like a visual orienteering map of where they have been and how they work around what’s caught their attention.

Tel Aviv © Stewart Weir 2010

The contact sheet below shows the entire roll of film and is much more telling about my work than showing the two images above. Its the progression of images and how a photographer moves around that indicates where their creative thoughts are. For those shooting digital images the same rule applies. Look at your series of images from one shoot and look at how the set progresses. Editing is an art and one that every photographer must learn.


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