Editing... ahhhhhh! I am horrible at this! So many times I say to myself, oh I know it isn't perfect technically but I love that smile, or that moment... I can't let it go! I am slowly learning that I must LET.IT.GO! Or at the very least, store it away in my personal archives.
This week I have been working on majorly editing myself. I have deleted about twenty photos from www.eileenearnestphotography.com. I had some new photos I wanted to add and when I started looking through my site, I realized there was a lot of dead weight: photos that had been on there since the beginning that needed to be swapped out, or photos that weren't technically as good as they should be. Every day that I pick up a camera, I get that tiny extra smidge more experience. With that experience comes the realization that what I once thought was amazing, was in fact only on par for my ability/ knowledge at that time. I've barely even started, the last thing I need is to become stale! I know I am not alone! The number one concern I heard over and over at GPP from my fellow classmates was that they weren't good at editing down their own work.
Here's a photo that I previously LOVED and that I have removed this week:
When I first took this photo, I was excited about it. We hiked about 11 hours the day that this was taken and I felt I really earned all the shots from that experience! I hauled (well, actually, my trusty assistant, the ever patient, John Earnest, mostly hauled) my 8lb tripod up steep inclines, and I had my full camera bag, another 15 pounds or so on my back. We hiked all the way up to Booth Lake (Check it out here: www.protrails.com/trails/view/391) which took us about 6 hours. We lost the trail for a while, the clouds were rolling in, we ran out of water... it was a proper adventure for two relatively inexperienced hikers, ill equipped to handle the altitude! But, we made it! No one can take that away from us and I was so proud that I was able to rise to the challenge. I am telling this story because when I look at that photo above, that's what I see. To everyone else, this is just a random stream, in a random woods. For me, it's a memory, a moment in time. This was taken when we stopped for our first break... we found a nice little shaded area in the trees looking over this rapid, rolling, brook. It was run off from the Booth Falls just above. Even though it was cool out, we were already really hot and gulping down water and snacks. (Had we known we would run short, we might have gulped less, sipped more!) I set up my tripod and tried using different shutter speeds to get this white blanket of water. Here are the details: 32mm, 0.5s, f/29, ISO 100, manual mode. I am happy with the water, and the clarity of the photo. However, I had set the metering to center weighted. WHY, WHY? I don't know what I was thinking... this should have been set to evaluative. As a result I've got way too much variation between the white water and the dark trees. My composition could really be better as well. In post processing, I probably over-did the saturation (I can't remember, maybe one day I'll go back and look at the raw file,) but I am thinking the green is probably not quite that vivid in real life.
I took that photo nine months ago! I have loved it ever since, and it brings back amazing memories a great day with my husband in beautiful Eagle County, Colorado! It has taken me *nine* months to distance myself enough to say... really? Is this my BEST? Should it be one of the first of my photos someone comes across if they don't know me? If I am honest with myself, the answer is no.
I am very lucky to be surrounded by unbelievably caring people. My support crew: my family, especially my husband, and many friends, are so excited for me to finally have this business getting off the ground. However, your support crew is *not* your critique crew, lol! These people are usually not objective enough to say yay or nay to your work. I am still in the process of distancing myself. I try to go on to the site each week and review my portfolios. I try not to overload from a certain event or of a certain person (this is really hard with regard to photos of my own children!). Lately, if I add a photo, I force myself to remove a photo as well. Even with these personal goals set, I still have photos on there that should probably be taken down, but I am not there yet. So... do as I say but not as I do! Try to see the photo as someone who has never seen the subject before.
I would assert that the best friends to a new photographer are thick skin, and a seasoned photographer who is willing to be honest! Everyone needs a sounding board. Finding this person is critical and can make all the difference. I've been lucky to have some excellent photographers give me tips along the way: Jillian Greenhill here in Abu Dhabi, (jilliangreenhillphotography.com/) and Lisie Veloso back in Maryland, (www.caughtbyaflash.com). I took classes from Tonya Colson,(www.tonyacolsonphotography.com) who is amazing and given me great advice as well! Three women who have helped me get through some of the difficult first steps of creating a business out of a hobby. Please check out their websites! There are also online "photo clubs" to join to get honest critique. I belong to fotothing, which is more of a sharing site, but people will comment and help to gauge the reception a certain photo is receiving. Another one of my personal, short listed goals are to join a proper professional group for critique.
The bottom line: Be tough when developing your portfolio! I know how hard it is.... I am living it daily! xx