The Refrigerator Test

by Paul Ruby


Many photographs have been attached to my refrigerator with

3M masking tape and ornamental lucky magnets. I do this so

that I can chance upon them with an open and clear mind. One

very important thing in art photography is the issue of being

"available". This applies to both making and viewing



In order to be available a clear mind is required.

When I go to the fridge for a Popsicle or anchovy

paste I am not usually thinking photography or photographs.

The repeated viewing of the photo on the

refrigerator over an extended period of time is one of the best

evaluation methods I know.


Being available depends on your ability to clear your mind of

excess baggage- work, home problems, money or mate

problems, car trouble etc. Weeks or months go by before I can

determine whether I've got something or not. The things that I


seek in a photograph are often somewhat intangible. The most

common things that happen as the result of the refrigerator test

are as follows:


  1. The photo turns out to be too weak. It is not necessarily a

bad photo but one that is not strong enough. The refrigerator

test is used for photos that you think have something going

on but are not sure. "I think there is something there but

I'm not sure." Or "This feels like a good one but maybe it is just me

imposing my mind on it and there really isn't anything there."


That happens. So you put it on the refrigerator for a month.

About 1/3 of the photos pass the fridge test.


2. Then there are the good ones- The surprises, the gifts the

special ones. These photos just grow. They remain strong

for years. These are the photos that fuel me. The one on the

wall by the TV has been there for 3 years. I look at it and

think, "Wow. That-is-a-good- one." It's as simple as can be.

-Paul 8/98

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