Making a good image involves passion and thought. It is the formulation of a design, a creation, a rendering of our vision for others to see. In creating an image we form an emotional attachment because it is special and unique to us.
The location where the image was made also imprints on our consciousness. For example: if it is a peaceful and beautiful place where the image was created. Our mind embeds the tranquil sounds of nature; the fresh and clean smells of the air and the sunlight that shines, warmly on our face. The emotional connection we make, when producing a photo stays with us, for at least the first few months, and this connection can create a bias in editing.
Unless we reduce these emotional connections, they can adversely affect our ability to successfully edit and bring forth our best work. The essential point here is that viewers of our images only judge those images on the merits of effectiveness, not in the emotion we felt when making the image. It is important to utilize techniques that separate our feelings and connection with the photo.
A famous quote from Gary Winogrand, the famous New York City street photographer, says,
“Photographers mistake the emotion they feel while taking pictures as judgment that the photograph is good.”
To combat this emotional connection he deliberately waited a year or two so he would have virtually no memory of the act of taking an individual photograph. At the time of his death in 1984 Winogrand had left 2500 rolls of undeveloped film behind. In total, with not proofed work and unmarked contact sheets, it is estimated that he left 300,000 unedited images.
Toronto at the Bell Centre
In my own quest to reduce an emotional attachment to my images and be a better editor of my work, I will generally wait at least 1 or 2 months before looking at my work. Upon uploading my raw images, I will give them a quick curiosity look and not look at them again for a couple months. I find this detaches my emotion enough to accomplish good editing.
The process starts, after waiting 1 or 2 months, with one star edits in Lightroom. After reducing the images to 1 star, I will wait until the next day and move on to eliminating more images with a 2 star review. At this point I will set the software to deliver a slideshow of the 2 star images and I will get up from my computer and move back from the screen. I find that looking at images from a distance allows me to get a better and different perspective. This more distant perspective helps me see if the composition works, namely if the elements come together in a pleasing fashion, and also if there is a clear message in the image. From the slideshow edit I have now further reduced the images and rated the remaining images at 3 stars.
Some of the important things to consider in your image editing are: is there good light and balance in the composition, is the moment decisive, is there a story or feeling, and is the image unique and memorable?
In the next post I will continue on with my editing process, as this process can be rather lengthy and complicated. However the importance of good editing cannot be emphasized enough as it better facilitates bringing my best work to the forefront. Good editing essentially represents who you are a photographer and better allows you to show your vision to the world.
By Randall Romano
All text & photos: © 2016 Randall Romano. All rights reserved.