“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”
– Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
So you’ve taken a load of photos. Your card is full and you’re excited to see the result up on your big computer screen. You can’t wait to see the photos and you can’t wait to share them. You wait as the photos upload, patiently sipping your coffee. Then, as they appear, you go through them. Looking, searching for the great ones, but you never see them so you keep all the photos that look pretty good. Many of them are similar, but you decide to keep them anyway, because you aren’t sure yet. You start processing and you’ve duplicated a couple to try them in color and black and white. Or you can’t decide between two presets on the same image. By the end, you have one too many photos that are alike, even you know you should delete a couple. But you can’t bring yourself to do it. You export them all, thinking maybe you’ll decide later which ones are the best. Or you’ll put them up on Facebook for others to decide.
Last week, I showed you how I cull my images based on my vision. I took my set of 15 images down to 3 before processing. Then, I narrowed it down to one. I narrowed it down. I didn’t let people on Facebook narrow it down. I did it because it’s my image, my vision, my art. You have to own your art, make it yours and have confidence in it.
Culling is where we often start to lose our vision. We’ve taken a step back and time away from shooting and in the process took time away from our original vision. It’s sometimes difficult to bring it back especially if it wasn’t clear to begin with.
Culling is difficult because we second guess ourselves. We love our art, but are unsure or not confident in it. We need to bolster that confidence by reminding ourselves of our own vision. We have to build our confidence in our own vision to kill off some of our babies or darlings.
We all have a fear of burying our photos beneath a pile of unprocessed images with little hope of resurrection. Especially if those photos contain our children, loved ones, or places we loved. Those photos we love and feel like should have attention, and lots of it. By ourselves and the outside world. But sometimes we wear blinders, and we know it. That’s why we turn to Facebook and the outside world to see if we’re wearing blinders, ‘mommy goggles’, or we’re unaware of what makes a great photo.
But I say there is a better way. A workflow that saves time, heartache, and allows you to produce what you want.
It starts with vision. What is your intent? Why in the first place did you pick up the camera and take the photo? If you have a clear vision to start then your culling will go faster. You will cut your processing time, and you’ll be much happier with the result.
Once you start with your vision and use your vision to direct everything you do from shooting to processing to sharing, killing your photos by choosing not to save and share all or most of them will be easier. You may want to go out and just be told how to take better photos. But it doesn’t happen like that. Not really. You need to start with you and why you are taking the photo and what you want to say with the photo. Then you can begin to take advantage of tutorials and technical aspects of shooting to help you create that vision.
Next week I’ll talk about your vision and culling photos in-depth. How you can put the two together to get better results. I’ll take you step by step through a process I used at first that will help you synthesize vision and culling.