There is something happening on Instagram right now - 'the best nine', showcasing people's favourite nine images of the year, neatly presented as a montage to roundup their year in pictures.
This got me thinking; what makes one photograph stand out above others, especially in a world that is saturated in imagery?
A good picture is a good picture at the end of the day, but who gets to decide what is good? We could argue about the subjectivity of viewing images, and the education of 'reading pictures', but let's keep this light...
For the viewer it might be the way the light falls, or a memory that is evoked. It's not always obvious why we react to something. Certain images and styles resonate with us at different times of life. Some images stay favourites precisely because of this.
And so, for various reasons here are some images that have resonated with me over the years:
Don McCullin was the first photographer I studied in any depth and I have been in awe of photo-journalists covering conflict ever since. McCullin started young, as he found photography whilst carrying out his national service in the RAF.
There aren't many images from the great American photographer, Ansel Adams that do not wow the viewer. This may not be one of his most iconic images, but I have it on my wall, as I'm a big fan of Mother Nature, and love the way the wind has fixed this tree over the years.
Shooting on large-scale cameras and creating the zone system, with Fred Archer to form a grading system from the whitest white to the darkest black, his images were a scientific delight.
In my mid-twenties I was heavily inspired by William Klein. I spent considerable hours wandering through the backstreets of London's East End, somehwat emulating his style.
I haven't kept on top of his whole career, but earlier this year as part of Photo London, I had the great pleasure of going to a talk at the National Portrait Gallery of William Klein in conversation with David Campany. Although he is old, and physically weary, he could still wax lyrical about his amazing accomplishments as a photographer and he remains high on my list of achievers.
Bringing my favourite images up to date is Spencer Murphy. I first became aware of him in the 2012 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize where this image won him Third Place. I have been following his career ever since.
Single images are becoming a harder way to arrest people's imagination, but I still love a strong portrait.
Nowadays, I am a huge fan of Instagram, with it's easy access to imagery. Any time of day I can easily access some amazing images. On this platform, I find photographs that appeal to me offer awe, beauty, or humour.
A couple of my favourites are Benzank, with his extremely witty, stylised photographs and Jimmy Chin who literally seems to live on top of the world. I've also enjoyed following Niall McDiarmid's Town to Town and Graeme Oxby's The Kings of England (Elvis impersonators). Check them out if you get a chance.
So, there you have a few of my favourites. Let me know yours. Let's start a conversation!