Separating yourself from your emotions is a beneficial skill to have. It can help you deal with sensitive situations where emotions are on high. It can help you make informed, clear minded, and well thought out decisions. It can even help you see flaws or or strengths in your work. Being able to objectively view your photography by canceling out the emotions you have for your own photos can greatly help when editing your work.
Quick side note: When I refer to editing I am referring to the process of selecting the photos you are deciding to keep as apposed to the ones you will trash, and even beyond keeping them, selecting the ones you decide to share whether it be posting them online, publishing them in a book, or hanging them on a gallery wall.
What I mean by the title of this post “Separating yourself from your photo” is to successfully view your work without emotions, feelings, or memories of taking the photo getting in your way.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert at this. In fact I am constantly learning new ways of editing down my photos and my techniques change frequently. Here is what I do now to help distance myself from my photos.
(All images taken by Tyler Bedgood. Click on the image for more info)
1. Put time between you and your photos.
I wait a month or longer from the day I shot the photo before I am even willing to share it. I look at the pictures a day or two after shooting, I even revisit them here or there in lightroom to turn black and white or further edit. But I will not post it until at least a month has gone by. Putting this time in between the pictures and I helps a lot. I find that the photos I thought were great when I initially looked at them do not always look as great when a month or so has passed. It gives my brain time to separate the emotions and feelings I had for the photographs when I first took them. Then, when I revisit the photos I do not have those emotions and feelings clouding my judgment.
2. Have others critique and or look at your photos.
Even after a month or so I can still have a hard time determining if a photo I took is great, good, or garbage. Ill still be emotionally connected to it, or ill dislike something small about it but keep it because I like the photo as a whole. I struggle as I am sure most people do. I am also very critical of my own work. When I run into these emotional road blocks and my time method isn’t working Ill ask those around me for help.
It’s nice to have feedback and an extra set of eyes at any point but its especially useful when trying to separate yourself from your work. Just like having a photo editor, the people you choose to look at your work can give you their opinions without being effected by any of your emotions. You set them down at your computer and tell them to choose the best photos. Tell them to tell you why they picked them and what they like and dislike. A lot of times, I will take 4 or 5 photographs I cant seem to decide on and have someone I trust view them. Every time I hear their feedback it helps me become better at editing and better at shooting. Keep in mind this does not have to be someone that has photographic knowledge. It helps if they do, but it also helps if they do not. Not everyone who looks at your work will be knowledgable in the photographic arts.
3. Think, think, and then think some more.
When you are trying to separate yourself from your work it is important to visit every street, avenue, and alleyway in your brain. Avoid acting on your first impulse. That is especially hard for me because I rely on my intuition a lot in street photography. But impulses are little to no help when it comes to editing your work. Think about the future, the lasting effect of the photo you are pondering over. Will it be a great photo forever and why or why not? Think about the past as well. How does it compare to your earlier work? Think about the plain and simple facts of the photo. How is the composition, content etc… Do any of these factors discount it’s quality? Avoid thinking about the feelings that the photo has given or is giving you (that’s the hardest part). Is there anything missing from the photo? Try to envision what others will think of the photo. Try putting yourself in your viewer’s shoes. Your viewer won’t have the emotional connection that you had when taking the photo. If you can imagine what the viewer thinks of your image you are doing it right.
Lastly, these techniques are not without their own flaws. It is very difficult to separate your own creations from the emotions and feelings you may have toward those creations. After all, it is those emotions that help us create in the first place. Hopefully these 3 tips can help you like they have helped me.
What do you think about the 3 tips listed above? What strategies do you have for editing your photos? What do you do to separate your emotions from your creations. Feedback is always welcomed. Thanks for reading.