Thoughts on editing (Part 1)

I have been thinking a lot about editing, how I am ever going to do it with my own work, and coming to no particular conclusion.

Dan Milnor was right when he said here: “Typically we get too attached to our imagery and have difficulty making good decisions.”

Let’s use the image above as an example. All i can analytically get from it is still “YUCK!” even though the car is clean and mud long gone. I was there, wading around in the stuff, smelling it, coming close to tasting it even. Whatever merits or downfalls the image might have, is completely obscured for me, by disgust. Trying to get past the memory of the experience is a tough one. I start with best intentions and end up nowhere.

Here is where I am with trying to create a cohesive body out of my own work.

Like a three ton vehicle in thick sucking mud with no traction, I am stuck fast in my rut.



28 thoughts on “Thoughts on editing (Part 1)

  1. But I think that’s exactly what this image says to the viewer anyway, and for us that is not clouded by your memory. At least that this car was muddy enough to get in an adventure. The editing should come down to whether this is the image that best fits that feeling you are trying to convey. if it’s “Wow that was an amazing adventure but that mud was yucky” this image is definitely in the mix.

    1. I both agree and disagree with your statement “The editing should come down to whether this is the image that best fits that feeling you are trying to convey” Ed. On the one hand, yes it should absolutely come down to whether it’s the image that fits the feeling you are trying to convey, but on the other hand, there are things to consider like:
      – does it fit in with the rest of the images in the set?
      – is it the best image for the job to convey the feeling when taking the rest of the set images into consideration?
      – does it fit in with the voice/style of my story?
      etc etc and etc. Plenty to consider to finely hone a story, much like if you were writing a novel.

  2. Is it just me, or does that look like a cute little face peering out from behind the mud? Probably just me…I see faces in many things!

    1. I have been looking and looking for this face you speak of… and i don’t see it. The voices in your head are visual as well eh? ;)

      1. The headlights are eyes, the number plate is like a mouth. The rectangle thingey above the number plate is a nose. The rest of face fills itself in. Like a mud-splattered cartoon face! Robot-style. What’s that movie….? Wall-E. It reminds me of that.

        It’s the first thing that jumped out at me. Am I so alone!!! :)

      2. Ah! Now that you mention it, yes! See what I mean by being too close to my image, or in this case, subject matter? It wouldn’t have occured to me to even look at anything that wasn’t the mud, especially that nice big glob stuck to the winch hook… hehe

    2. Ah…that’s just some trendy face-piercing. :) Your car sneaks off to tattoo parlours and experiments in body art behind your back.

      1. Yeah, and I can just imagine the boy conspiring in happy secret-squirrely fashion as well. I better keep a closer eye on those two…

        Oh dear we’re anthropomorphising…

      2. Yup. It’s what I do. I do try to reign myself in. So many of my early photos were of all the faces I saw in the objects around me. Amused me, anyway!

  3. I know exactly what you mean, it is impossible to objectively work with, edit and process one’s work at times. Having shot the image, lived the situation that the image shows and knowing the feelings behind the image it is just so hard to separate that and look at an image like the viewer will. We cannot. I usually go by “If I like it, I will use it, I do not care at all if anyone else likes it”. But it does not work 100% because then there are days where I hate every single image I have ever shot and also, just me liking it is not always a good enough measurement instrument. I am too connected to the story behind the image. Yes it’s so hard.

    1. Oh..those days when you hate every single one of your own images. Those are the very not happy days. I have many, many, many of those days. The kicker is that what you like one day you hate the next. And then you shift back. It never makes me want to keep trying though.

      1. You know, now that you mention this, it’s been a long time since I’ve looked at a single image and liked or hated it. I’m so incredibly focused on visual narratives right now I think I’ve ceased to look at each image on its own.

        Maybe that’s part of my problem. Not taking enough quality photos to more firmly anchor my narratives more firmly in their message.

        Hmmmmmm… you two have given me something to think about. Thanks!

        I’ll go back to hating my narratives that don’t narrate now…. and try to look on them with fresh eyes ;)

      2. Now that I think about it (for 2 seconds more), that’s one part of problem. I don’t take enough anchor images. Or enough variety in all.


  4. *edit* “it never makes me want to STOP trying” Sheesh Cathy!

    Charlene…I think there comes a point where you (we) tie yourself in knots trying to force something. Take a breath, step back. Stop looking so hard, and I bet you’ll find that what you wish you were saying is there already. Maybe only bits and pieces, but I would put good money on the fact that it IS there already.

    Watch out for those brain hamsters. They’re sneaky little suckers! :)

    1. I think you might be right about that. I’ve been frustrated about this for so long, i should just forget about it for a while. But I’m obsessed you know… it’s not quite to the omigod-my-hair-is-on-fire extent that those freighter cruises, but more like a slow, steady, minutely increasing burn.

  5. I think that’s part of the problem or could be anyway, that you don’t look at single images and have anchor images. I find that these anchor images are what the story is build around. I mostly look at single images so I’m the opposite, I am using to shooting single images, art for sale so to speak. If you look at NG stories, there are some images in there to support the story but there are also some anchor images that in themselves are amazing standalone shots. I think every visual story needs these hero anchor images.

    1. I should probably clarify, it’s not that I don’t look at single images, per se, just don’t focus on them and them alone. Not every visual story has hero/anchor images though. Have you ever looked at Summer Nights, Walking by Robert Adams? Not a hero image in the entire book (they’re all pretty “yeah, ok” imho). The whole book is damn good though… writing about this in the part 2 post.

      But yes, I do need to start looking at my singles as standalones. I stopped doing that when I started the book making process and I think it’s time to inject some of that back in.

  6. Editing is the hardest part. And – sometimes – it feels to me that we have to let go of our give the others a chance to shine. Love the image and how you processed it!!!

  7. You’re so not the only one – I’m terrible with curating my own images – my lightroom catalogue is mostly a collection of “I quite like that, I like that, I can’t choose between that and that so I’ll keep both, that’s good, etc” and in reality, I’ve probably only taken 10 really decent shots this year, if that.

  8. Interesting to see this – been trying to do this myself. I think its something you have to do often – I find that each time I come back, I shave off a few. And it’s funny – today i burnt a CD with images to take to get some test prints done (just at Officeworks) and even as I was going through them at the shop I decided not to print some. I think the more times you look with a critical “should-I-print-it” the less attached you become and the better the edit becomes. Perhaps. I’m not sure.

    1. Agreed, something that definitely needs to be done often. The print approach is also one I’ve not considered. You might be right on that….

      Thanks for dropping by Mike :)

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