22. May 2012 ·
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Editing Your Photographs: Be Indifferent

As a photographer, editing your work is a critical step in understanding the process of image making. I tell my students, it makes no sense to delete any images while photographing with a digital camera, why?
As Kenny Rodgers suggested in is tune “The Gambler,”
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table,
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.

What I mean by Kenny Rodger’s song, is that when your dealin as a photographer you are occupied with capture (taking pictures). What you have pointed your camera at has taken over every impulse of your mind’s eye. Besides an occasional look at your histogram to see if you are getting the information between the goal posts, and possibly how the light looks, there is no reason to do any more counting on your LCD; definitely not making any attempt at editing your work by swiping the delete button.

After capture, you can follow a simple workflow by downloading your images with Photoshop’s Bridge. Using the star system, give one star for yes, and two stars for maybes. Group those “Yeses” and “Maybes” with Bridge’s Output Panel into 20 images per proof sheet.
Here comes the part which is the most difficult: look at your photographs as if someone else made them. Or, remove your emotions from your pictures; be indifferent.

Walker Evans was a master at being indifferent to his work. Evans wasn’t interested what he felt a picture said to him, he was interested in what the facts inside the picture said to him. In order to separate his emotions from his pictures, street photographer Gary Winogrand put his exposed rolls of film aside for months before processing the film. Obviously, in the digital world of instant image thumbnails on your DSLR, this can be a difficult task.

Take a moment to write about your images as if you were a disinterested observer.

From your Yes and Maybe proof sheets, jury the frames which speak directly about your subjects meaning and its form. Make small high quality prints, and leaving room to write about them, glue-stick them onto letter size index card stock. Now, write a few sentences about the photographs as if they were made by another photographer. This process will allow you to judge your best images. The editing part of image making takes time, and as Henri Cartier-Bresson said, “It takes a lot of milk to make a little cheese.”

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