December 24, 2018 — Sonoma County Coast. May 4, 2021, My office.
I’ve done a lot of photogralogical* archive digs in the past months and have come up with an astonishing number of shots that were overlooked on first, second, and even third look. A number of my mentors have counseled not to even look at a shoot until days, weeks, or months after to shoot. They say it makes it easier to be objective. I’ve always made it a habit to dump the card onto the computer, make three backups immediately, and then plow through looking for the any shots that immediately jump out. This dump and dive routine goes back to advertising days when I was inevitably working on a deadline and didn’t have the luxury of time. That and I’m prone to impatience.
The thing is, I very often will find one or two shots that scream at me to work on them right there and then. I see the shot and I immediately see the final result in my mind’s eye and make it so. Publish the first draft, so to speak. It often works.
But my mentors do have a point. Letting that folder on my computer sit there and age gives me time to gain perspective and get over any preconceived notions I may have about a particular shot fitting a mold I may have formed at the time of the shoot. On the other hand, I lose spontaneity if I wait. Making quick decisions is a skill I developed over years and years of having to be right the first time in a high-stakes situation. It’s the same ability that has allowed me to whittle 2,500 shots down to 30 in two or three hours starting at 0 dark 30 and then post-process them and send them for printing at 03 dark 30 in my performance photography days. It’s not for nothing that I have that ability, so why not use it?
Still, my mentors do have a point. Perspective changes with age and distance. It did here.
But there’s something else I learned in the glamorous world of advertising: how to walk and chew gum at the same time. So why not employ both policies: immediate dive and lingering look? In fact, I do.
But this was the time for the lingering look. I did a very different version of this same shot last July. And that was still two-and-a-half years after the shoot.
Those mentors. That’s why they’re mentors.
(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 4.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)
* Of course it’s a word.