Yes. It’s possible to think of photography as an act of editing, a matter of where you put your rectangle pull it out or take it away. Sometimes people ask me about films, cameras and development times in order to find out how to do landscape photography. The first thing I do in landscape photography is go out there and talk to the land – form a relationship, ask permission, it’s not about going out there like some paparazzi with a Leica and snapping a few pictures, before running off to print them.- Michael Kenna
I’m back from my month in Southeast Asia and am deep into the editing phase of the project. Or as I like to call it, the “I suck” phase.
I go through this with every project. I wrote about it in my previous blog post called The Agony of Editing. I know it will get better, but this is all part of the process – and an important one.
I have a background in Naval aviation, and the crews always debriefed themselves after every flight to see what they did well and what they could do better. By doing this analysis, they continue to grow their skills and always stay sharp.
So as I go through each shot, I’m my harshest critic. I look at the lighting, the composition, the content and really try to look impartially at it. I usually find myself asking why I didn’t move to the right a bit or get a different perspective. Sometimes the exposure is off, so I try to figure out why.
But the main thing that I want to see is if I captured the emotion that I was trying to convey. Did I actually come back with the series that I envisioned in my head before I left. To the last point, I inevitably don’t. It’s like a novelist who writes a book. They usually have an outline and a vision for the final product, but it can just as easily take a different turn as the writing process progresses.
Here’s the thing though – I can’t analyze that “main thing” right now. I need to distance myself from the negatives for a while. I find it gives me a better perspective if I live with them for a few weeks out of mind. I can look at them more objectively that way. Right now I’m too emotionally connected to them – I remember how hard it was to take a particular shot or the good or bad experience I had that day. None of that should factor into whether it’s a good print or not at the end.
At this point in the process my “artist insecurities” are running rampant (the “I suck” phase). I need to let that calm down for a while before I can see clearly. So you won’t see any of my B&W work from the trip until sometimes in January most likely.
Until then, I’ll relax and enjoy the holidays. I’m flying back east to spend Christmas with the family in Ohio. My flight leaves on Tuesday – it will be my 17th flight in the last 5 weeks. I’m already planning out 2012 and there are some seriously exciting things to come.