When I edit a batch of photos from my latest photowalk, I’m sure just like you, I only want to keep the very best.
I’m fairly ruthless with editing, so it’s not unusual to take 100 photos in a couple of hours then delete 80 or 90 of them when reviewing them.
But picking those “best” photographs is a constant challenge.
Here are three of the biggest traps I fall into, and how I try to avoid them –
All photowalks are not equal
Sometimes a 20 minute walk might yield five photographs I love. Sometimes 120 minutes doesn’t return a single one.
It’s unrealistic to try to always pick, say, your best 10% from every session, because the best 10% from some sessions might be far better than the best from another.
Sometimes the best 75% of one walk are better than 100% of those on the next three walks!
Try to be mindful that all photowalks will not produce the same standard of images, for a whole host of reasons, from the weather conditions, to your choice of camera and lens, to how much you were feeling the flow (or not).
Don’t be afraid to delete every photo from a batch if they’re not any good.
Your latest photos are not always your greatest
For as long as I’ve been making photographs with intention (about 13 or 14 years), I’ve always enjoyed getting back home and seeing the results – whether that’s been immediately, in the case of digital, or when I arrive home from the processing lab and the scans, with film photos.
Quite often, the best images of that most recent batch feel the best photos you’ve ever made, just because they are so fresh and recent.
But the here and now robs you of virtually all objectivity, and only time can give you the space you need to be more discerning, and make a less urgent and emotionally charged judgement on where these new images fit relative to your past standards.
One thing I’ve tried is to leave it a few days, even a couple of weeks, before reviewing a batch of photos.
It’s amazing how, after the immediate emotions have cooled, and memories of the photowalk have faded, some photos look so ordinary again, and sometimes (ok, often!) I wonder why I even made some of them.
This approach does work, but you do lose some of the feelings you had when taking the photos, as too much time has passed.
So generally I default back to viewing the images as soon as possible after shooting them!
I think something else I could do here, and that I’ve done shockingly little of, is have physical prints made of some of my favourites. Then, by living with them “in the flesh” more, I could gain a better feel of how good they are. Or not.
Camera passions cloud judgement
Over the years, because I’ve used so many cameras, at any one point, my favourite camera has been the one I’m using right now, my new great love that’s showing great promise in surpassing all previous loves I’ve known.
This means though, that you want any photo your latest flame produces to be amazing, to justify your feelings towards it, and possibly to justify the money you’ve invested in it.
Well, to avoid this, it’s the same simple fix as for so many struggles I’ve had with cameras in the past.
Use fewer cameras, and get to know the few you do use inside out, over a long period of time.
Know their strengths and how to play to them, to create photos perhaps no other camera you have can.
Once the novelty of a camera being new is gone (perhaps put another way, once the honeymoon is over), you can down to perhaps your best work with it, rather than just moving on to yet another new fling with yet another new (old) camera.
How about you? Are any of the above pitfalls familiar to you? How do you judge which are your best photos?
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