Thursday, April 7, 2011

Photos to Share and Photos to Hide

(Click on the thumbnail for the bigger, better version)

Several recent comments here, as well as posts by other bloggers, have caused me to think more about the decisions we make regarding the fate of our photographs. For me, at least, it's usually fairly simple to identify the bombs that I really don't want to be reminded of. Ever. Those are deleted during the first edit.

Then, there are the ones that may someday work—they aren't exactly singing to me, but seeing them the next time I open the folder won't send me into a fit of depression.  A few of those get processed, sometimes reworked a time or two, and sometimes shared. Periodically one of them even becomes a new favorite.

Rarely, there is a RAW file that fairly shouts, "Me. Me." When that happens the picture is usually shared in one form or another. Sometimes those get printed.

Now, if only all the pictures fell neatly into one of these three categories. Unfortunately, I end up with too many in the "What Now?" category. In this case, I find that the dialogue runs toward, "I like it. I think. But, I'm not sure why. Is it because this reminds me of something that I have previously admired? That's probably it. Mine is a lousy imitation of something good. Yeah. I hate it. I think." When that happens, I spend varying amounts of time weighing the risks of showing something that I am drawn to, but have absolutely no confidence in. (This scenario fits the photo I published on March 23.) Sometimes, I am in a what -the-heck mood. On other occasions, I cave and the photograph remains in the folder sinking further and further to the bottom of the black hole that is my old folders. Eventually, most of those images are lost and forgotten.

Lately, I have posted a great number of pictures from my "drive-by" folders. I don't prefer to shoot that way, but we seem to always be on the road these days to some appointment or the other, and the camera helps me make the trip with some degree of calm. You probably recognize the picture above as another from the series taken along Highway 58 on the way down to Bakersfield. I have become self-conscious about posting so many of these pictures taken on the fly with the G7, but this is mostly what is happening in my life at the moment.

Do you ever have discussions with yourself about whether to share a picture, or tuck it away in your "private file"?


  1. Anita, I had to smile and even shake my head in recognition and agreement reading your thoughts of dealing with your photos.

    I have those same questions about my photos. Not only questioning if I like them well enough to share but why I like them and wondering if they represent where I feel I'm at in my photography. And heck, don't even get me started about trying to understand what deeper meaning they may contain on how I view things. :-)

    Wow -- if you've got a folder full of drive-by photos such as the one above...share them. What an absolutely beautiful image of lovely scenery.

  2. Well, first off, that's a beautiful drive-by photo! :)

    As for if I have those thoughts ... of course. Now, I try to be brutal in the first round of editing, figuring that I can knock off at least 50% as 'experiments' that didn't pan out. What remains, may or may not get shown.

    I try to pick one that looks interesting to me. Sometimes, I do say: What the heck! I'm posting THIS one. It's my blog!!! :)

    After a point, usually about a year, I rarely see those old ones. I'm not overly attached to them, but I know where they are.

    So, you're not alone.

  3. I don't think I ever have questioned posting an image because it's in a private file. I question whether or not it's something worth posting. :-)

  4. Always, Anita, always. One major pile gets to the bin, another into the drawer. A few ends up in public. It's good we have that filter, but sometimes I ask myself for what good I save those others in the drawer. It's for the projects I usually have in mind, but seldom conclude, that easily gets to large when I constantly add images to the drawer that could be used in these. That's my problem.
    Regarding your image, you can post images from that view many times more before I get tired of it, it's so beautiful.

  5. Earl - Oh, dear, if I got into "deeper meaning", I would never publish anything. I particularly identify with the "why" question. That one often trips me up and starts me thinking too much. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

    I do love those hills. They make the miles fly by.

  6. Paul - Thanks for the comment on the photo, I am delighted that you like it.

    Only 50% of yours get dumped in the first round? Now, I am depressed. ;)

    I quite like your reasoning, "'What the heck. ... It's my blog!!!'". It's nice to know that I am not alone.

  7. Monte - Thanks for your comment. My private files are stuffed with files that I think may not be worth posting. Thank you for letting me know that you sometimes have those images that you question.

  8. Ove - Thanks for letting me know that you have some pictures that remain in that drawer, yet may never be taken out in public. It interests me that we have images we like too much to put in "the bin", yet we can't quite bring ourselves to take them out in public. It is also comforting to know others have stacks of photos for projects that never are concluded. I suppose all these things "go with the territory" of being a photographer.

    I appreciate your kind words about the photo. Those hills are one of my favorite things about living in this area.

  9. Yeah, the first cut is so easy. Weeding out the ones that you know will never work. And you're right, the best ones are also easy to find. The others have potential and we need to remember why we took them in the first place. You might have some potentials in the older folders, waiting for that extra push only you can give.
    It might make an interesting project to pick a forgotten folder and play around with it. Might be some surprises in there.
    I love this picture. You are so lucky to live in such a beautiful area.

  10. Ken - Digging through those old folders can be quite an adventure. Mark Graf wrote a post about that a few months ago and since then, I have noticed how often I do it. You describe the editing process quite effectively. It is that darned gray area that poses the difficulty.

    Thank you for the kind comment on the photo. I am deeply grateful for the beautiful countryside here. It has a healing quality. We look forward to getting out to make some road trips and take in more of the beauty.

  11. Your post made me smile Anita because I think all photographers go through these conversations with themselves. Sometimes they are short conversations, sometimes they are quite long and protracted as you have eluded to.

    Often I think it is trying to link our subconscious with our conscious judge. After the moment is over, and the subconscious judge has gone back to sleep, we edit and sometimes our conscious judge just doesn't "get it." It make take a bit of simmering for awhile for the two to get on the same page again before we realize "Ah ha - that's why I made this thing!"

    Very perceptive post Anita!

  12. Mark - I always appreciate hearing your thoughts. I like the image of the two judges haggling over the fate of an image. Makes great sense to me. Thanks for the kind words.

  13. Must be getting really dumb as I get older - this is my third attempt to post a comment. It just can't be that hard....

    Love the image, Anita. It reminds me of passing through this part of California last October (going from Yosemite to Sedona, AZ). The rolling hills are just beautiful. We actually stopped in Tehachapi for some things and I suddenly realized that we must be close to where you live now. Again, just a beautiful area.

  14. Paul - Did someone put you up to making that comment about geting dumb as you get older? I deal with that question all too often when on the web. Come to think of it, too often when not on the web. Sigh. At any rate, I am delighted that you persisted against the roadblocks offered by Blogger and left a comment.

    I am jealous of your trip. Wow, you passed through some beautiful country. We had hoped to get to Arizona, this year, to escape lingering winter. Perhaps next year.

    You certainly were close by last fall. In Tehachapi, you were about thirteen miles from our house! I wish I had known.

    Thank you for the comment on the picture. I could make that drive along the 58 at least once of week and never tire of it. If only there were handy pullouts for admiring the beauty.

    It's great to hear from you.

  15. No, no one put me up to it. It just seems that the "senior moments" are increasing in frequency sometimes. Not much we can do about that, though, right?

    Wow. Just 13 miles. I wish I'd known, too.

    I'm hoping that we can get back to Utah and Arizona this fall. The east coast and south are nice, but I can't get that red rock and those canyons out of my head. Of course, who knows if we'll be able to afford the gas?

  16. Paul - I have begun to celebrate those moments as evidence of how overstuffed my brain is with years of experiences and information. Makes it a little easier to take. :)

    We hope to spend time in the eastern Sierra Nevada's this fall and maybe northern Arizona. Next winter, we would love to escape late winter here and spend time in southern Arizona. I don't think those red rocks and canyons will ever leave some of us alone.


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