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Editing Your Photos

May 19, 2008


Back in the day, when I went to school, there seemed to be far more emphasis placed on the “art” of editing. You shot, made contact sheets, edited from those, then entered the darkroom and made prints. Making darkroom prints goes far beyond pressing “print,” and is a difficult and complicated process. However, it did, in a way, FORCE you to actually edit.
Nobody wants to spend time making a darkroom print of a lousy photograph.
Fast forward to today when we have the ability to shoot nearly endless photos, and in my experience, our talent at the edit has fallen off dramatically.
My advice…make prints.
Even in the digital age, with the cost of ink and paper, nobody really wants to waste supplies, time or money, and making prints will FORCE you to actually edit your work.
With the ability to shoot endless images we can compile huge numbers of pictures, and due to this we sometimes feel that these images have instance relevance, when in actuality, they might not.
If you shoot 500 images, a HUGE amount if you think about it, and make take your edit to 400, you are not really editing.
Consider this…take the average photo-essay, where a magazine may run, at best, eight or ten images. How many did the photographer make for the entire essay? 300? 500? 1000? And they took the entire package down to eight or ten.
THIS is editing. It isn’t done by accident or by chance, it is a thoughtful process, and why do you think the position of “editor” still exists.
This brings me to my second point. Hire an editor.
If you are working on a “serious” project, hire an editor. Or, take your work to several other photographers who will help you trim the edit. We get emotionally attached to our work, and when it comes to making the best edit, often times, you have to take emotion out. It’s difficult. Very difficult.

I make an edit, then I make prints of those edits, nothing fancy, nothing sublime, but just enough to make me ask, “Is this really good enought to print?”

And, a tight edit help everyone involved. I’ve been amazed at how quantity has become a selling point with many photographers, and the unsuspecting client might actually think having a ton of images is a good thing. But, making a good edit not only helps the photographer it helps the client wade through the take. When people search for your images, or look for certain pictures, having a tight edit saves everyone time and shows you are more than just pressing the shutter.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Maryam in Marrakesh permalink
    May 20, 2008 8:59 am

    wise words.

    I wish you would teach an online class.

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