Editing photographs takes time and patience. You’ll probably follow different strategies, depending on whether you’re working on an assignment, an exhibition, or a scrapbook. I’ve found it helpful to let some time pass before making choices. That could be a few days, months, or years. It’s important to try to lessen the emotional attachment to an image and see it as objectively as possible.
On his blog, American photographer Eric Kim tells a story of photographer O.C. Garza, who said, about a class he took with master street photographer Gary Winogrand, “He never developed film right after shooting it. He deliberately waited a year or two, so he would have virtually no memory of the act of taking an individual photograph. This, he claimed, made it easier for him to approach his contact sheets more critically. Winogrand said, ‘If I was in a good mood when I was shooting one day, then developed the film right away,’ he told us, ‘I might choose a picture because I remember how good I felt when I took it, not necessarily because it was a great shot.’” (To be clear on how meta this is: I’m quoting Kim quoting Garza, who’s quoting Winogrand. Four layers of photographers finding this a useful insight!)
The photo at the top of this blog post is perhaps a solid example of letting time pass in editing: It was taken in Little Italy in Toronto in 1983, and scanned some 33 years later. I didn’t think it was a worthy photo when I took it, but I do now. Time has given me a different perspective on the photo. Part of the reason is that I’m a better photo editor now than I was in my twenties.
In these days of social media, it seems to be a lot about instant gratification–how many likes a photo received that was taken just five minutes ago. Resisting the urge to post things immediately is sometimes difficult but rewarding.
St. Clair West, Toronto, 1983 is from the series: Toronto Days