I love to shoot! I take many many images, partly because I love to shoot and partly (okay, maybe mostly) because it takes me many images to get the shot the way I want it to look. So I end up with an ongoing internal struggle between my desire to save every image and my desire to delete delete delete. My post today is in defense of hoarding those images … even the ones we think we don’t like or can’t use.
Have you ever “gone shopping” in your own closet? On a day when you have nothing appropriate to wear to some event, or you’re just bored with your “go-to” clothes, do you ever go to your closet and take a fresh look at those things you haven’t worn recently? I do, and I do the same think with my “old” images that I have never processed, or have edited a bit but could never quite get happy with them.
The passage of time works wonders for the usability of some of my images. Of course, the images haven’t changed since I shot them, but I have. Sometimes I’ve gained a new skill or learned a technique that helps me solve a problem with the image. Sometimes I may have gotten new software that makes the problem solving easier, so that now I can process the image in a few minutes rather than an hour or more.
But there’s also a more subtle change that time brings … emotional distance. Many times when I review my images immediately after shooting, I can’t see them objectively because the experience of shooting the image still lingers … memories of the day, the weather, the trip, my companion(s), etc. Or maybe the image on the SD card doesn’t live up my memory of the “real” scene or subject, or what I hoped to capture, or something else I was trying to accomplish.
For me, often the passage of time will remove whatever the original impediment was, and I can later “go shopping” in my archives and find images that, on later and maybe more objective evaluation, I find usable. I sometimes even wonder why I passed on the image the first time ... what a pleasant surprise!
The images above and below are ones that I captured quite some time ago, and passed on during my first review. I always liked the graphic elements of the images, but at the time I was in a “no cropping” mode, concentrating on learning how to frame images properly in camera and not rely on cropping for a good composition. The images had a few distractions around the edges, and didn’t live up to the memory of the scene in my head, so I rejected them. Like many rules that we learn and practice, and later give ourselves permission to relax, I’ve now greatly improved them with a bit of judicious cropping. And time has removed the “perfect” image in my head, so I’ve ended up happy that I didn't delete them.
How do you find balance between keeping and deleting? Do you “shop” your archives, and are you ever surprised by what you find? Does time change your view of your images? I’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a message.
As always, I wish you happy shooting and a satisfying photographic journey!