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:
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.