Misty Sakonnet Point from Newport
I placed one of my prints in a show this week. First time, well, ever. I also volunteered to help with intake of prints. Interesting experience.
I came away with the realization that we are all our worst editors. What I mean by that is that the first criteria when choosing an image for printing or further consideration is that the image stand on its own regardless of when or where it was taken, or who the subject may be, or what the situation may have been.
Martin Luther King on the Lincoln Memorial steps? Absolutely powerful whether you know who he was or not. Lincoln captured in a snapshot at Gettysburg just before his address? Interesting historical photograph to be sure, but not art.
How many times have you 'promoted' [printed, shown, shared] a photo mainly because [to be honest] it had meaning only for you due to where, when, why it was taken?
Step back and try to look at your work with a totally objective eye. You can't do it. Only a dispassionate viewer can. And if that viewer also has a discerning eye you may have found your editor. Every photographer and writer and filmmaker needs one.
Another approach I've heard about is putting your work away for a year after shooting. Really. Don't look at any images you shoot today for an entire year. By then you'll have lost most of the emotional attachment and should hopefully be able to judge each image completely on its own merit.
Don't think I have that kind of willpower. Or even want to. I learn too much from each day's editing. Guess it worked for Garry Winogrand though.
Summer is winding down here in New England. A few degrees cooler in the morning. Sun is coming up later. Penn State football on the TV. And the new hot tub platform has been built. Yup, fall is in the air.
Great day on the bay. Did my best to keep up with the action, but I'd forgotten how much work it is just to stay upright and steady...and out of the water!
Terrific week of workshops and meets with local pros, resulting in fundamental changes in my shooting workflow.
1) From a sports photographer: Use of the back focus button. Huge improvement in focus accuracy and shooting speed. [thanks Seth!]
2) From a wedding photographer: Shoot in full manual mode. All the time. Of course this is how I worked for years in black&white with manual cameras, but I'd gotten lazy/complacent/trusting of the camera. No more. [thanks Tara and Ben!]
3) From a sailing photographer: Push the histogram to the right. I had always treated digital files like slide film as opposed to negative film, making sure not to irretrievably blow out the highlights. No more. As he pointed out, I can pull beautiful detail out of a hugely overexposed RAW file, but trying to pull up muddy shadows just results in noise. [thanks @onnevanderwal]
The difference in recent images is astonishing. An my respect for these pros who give so freely of their expertise knows no bounds.
Thoughts and musings on the photographic process by a recovering film lab owner