Editing awkwardness


In my previous post I wrote that I had a hard time deciding which photograph to choose for last week Wednesday. I even left behind a message on twitter in the hope to get some good feedback. Even though I don’t intentionally photograph with a project in mind I am however fully aware that I photograph during a week or longer period a long a similar theme. At the end of the week, when I make my final edit I the flow of the week, it plays an even more important role for me.

So even though I don’t intentionally work on a series, my intuition makes me subconsciously work on it. And that influences my editing. Editing with regards to selecting photographing, not post processing them. Editing for a series is in my opinion very different from editing a single photograph. A single photograph may pop, scream for attention, wants to be noticed. In a series each individual photograph tries to complement the others, bringing harmony and unity. As a result a really good photograph might not make the cut, cause it doesn’t serve the context of the series. Off course a series might have a few exceptional good photographs to strengthen it, to get noticed, just like a few hit singles on a music album.

Last week’s Wednesday felt special when I left home for work. There was a lot of fog and I knew from my local knowledge that some places would work really well. I took a small detour and soon realized that a nearby parking lot provided me a good scene for a photograph. The horizontal and vertical lines of the parking places and the horizontal lines of the background silhouettes would fit nicely within the photographs I had already taken that week. The hardly noticeable light posts in the background added some juxtapositions in the composition.

After that I moved further east into the direction an estate close to my work. With the upcoming sunrise I noticed some light getting underneath the withdrawing fog. I realized the available time frame was short and immediately rode to an interesting spot. I really don’t know what it was, but despite using a 28mm wide angle the scene got something of a fish eye perspective. Unlike my previous photographs this week with the horizontal and vertical lines, this scene had mostly bending lines and stronger curves. It was very different, but I was very excited and had the feeling that it was a good photograph. Admitted, I think it is the better photograph. And general comments I received on my tweet the previous week confirms this.

As a photographer you learn many things and some knowledge is rather easily transferable. Some knowledge however is so hard to comprehend. You really need to study this, invest a lot of time, and discuss this with others. Reason maybe why there is very limited information available about this. Editing is something I feel is very difficult. It took me ages to create a portfolio and yet I am still full of doubt whether my edit is good enough. You tell me, context, form, light, that is what matters. Depending on the subject and genre the importance of each three items might vary. For street photography context could be more important, but for landscape form and light might be of greater significance.

Now I would love to share tips and thoughts on editing your own work, but I have no glue how to do so. It is very difficult to pick a single photograph, but it is maybe even harder to select a number of photographs for a series. And it will always feel awkward to keep a good photograph unselected.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma