Editing – Separating yourself from your photo

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.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tylerbedgood/7997031749/

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.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tylerbedgood/7645245254/

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.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tylerbedgood/7964298704/

Conclusion

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. 

Posted in Photos, Street Photography | 6 Comments

Over Thinking/Hesitation

When shooting street photography it can sometimes be difficult to not hesitate when you see something you want to take a picture of. Usually this hesitation stems from over thinking and sometimes from just thinking in general.  When I am shooting I will often times see something great but then instead of moving towards the action and raising up my camera, i’ll think about what will happen after I take the photo. Ill think about if the subject will get angry or distressed. I even think about those people surrounding the subject(s) and what they will do once I have taken the shot. All of these thoughts are useless and only serve to cause hesitation which undoubtedly leads to missing the photo all together.

All images taken by Tyler Bedgood. Click the image for more info.

The short lesson here that can help beginners like myself and even seasoned street photographers alike is to not hesitate. Clearing your mind so that you are not boughed down by thoughts of “what if” is a key part of being able to capture great moments on the street. Some of my best shots have been captured without really thinking. I’ll see what I think to be an interesting subject or subjects and ill move my body towards them, lift the camera, frame, and click. That’s it. There is no thinking about the people around your subject(s), there is no considering the subject’s reaction, there is only see, compose, and shoot. Afterwords I sometimes don’t even know what just happened. I’ll immediately wonder if I even got a good shot or not because when I do it properly, it happens so fast that I don’t even have time to process the event.

Click the image for more info.

Although its good to shoot with a clear mind and without hesitation, we have to undertand that this is not the only criteria for a great image. Of course you will still end up with mostly bad photos. I shoot bad photos weekly even without hesitating. Everyone does. That is just street photography in general. Even the best only get about 10 amazing shots a year.

The benefits from leaving hesitation and over thinking at the doorstep before you go out are self explanatory. You will become less afraid of approaching your subjects over time. You will have more shots to choose from. You will never miss a moment (not due to hesitation at least). You will even get better at street photography faster because you are shooting more by not psyching yourself out.

Click the image for more info.

Now, all of this is good and fine but it’s really hard not to hesitate sometimes isn’t it? Here are some tips to help you avoid hesitating.

1. Do anything that makes you relaxed before you go out (ex. For me, ill have a cup of tea, or listen to mellow music. Sometimes (( and this is just laziness)) ill sleep or stay in bed right up until before I go out so that my mind does not have time to get filled with anxiety or thoughts that lead to hesitation)

2. Take a break. If you are out shooting and you find yourself thinking to much or hesitating to often then simply grab a water, sit down on some steps, listen to a song on your mobile device. Anything that will distract you for a short amount of time before you start to shoot again.

3. Shoot with a friend. This is one of many great reasons to shoot with others. When I see others shooting it inspires me to shoot more and hesitate less. Hopefully this works in the other direction as well. It helps take away the thinking and soon you’re just shooting and having fun.

4. Count (or something similar)  in your head as you are roaming the streets. This will keep you focused but not overly so that it would cause you to miss the moments. Ex. 1,2,3,4,5 there is a good subject, 6, 7 approach, 8, 9 lift camera and compose,  10 click, 11, 12 walk away, 13, 14 etc… until the next interesting moment presents itself to you. You are basically filling your mind with the counting instead of the thoughts that may cause you to hesitate.

5. Take a deep breath. Remember that you are great and that this is hard and don’t get discouraged if you do in fact hesitate or over think. There will be plenty of amazing moments that happen in your lifetime. If you miss one, move onto the next using one of these five tips.

Click the image for more info.

Have you ever hesitated before a shot? What are some tricks or tips that you do in order to not over think when shooting street photography? Thanks for looking and feel free to leave your thoughts, experiences and suggestions below. 

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New Photo Day #4

New Photo Day! On a regular basis I will be uploading new street photos to flickr and posting them to my blog with a short story as to how they were captured. Including details technical, methodical, and other important tidbits about the photo.

Image captured by Tyler Bedgood. License: Attribution. Click the image for more info.

For today’s New Photo Day I am sharing with you one of my most viewed photos. The title of this photo is “Joyfully Sinister.” For me this photo demonstrates the symmetry between  a good subject and a good composition.

The Capture

I was out on a photo walk with my friend Jeremy Stark. It was actually his first time out shooting street photography. We were having a good time exploring the innards of chicago as the sun started setting. I decided I was going to get my flash out and shoot a few shots before we wrapped up for the day. As we were walking along our last stretch of street I saw this gentleman smoking a cigarette off to my left. I immediately started to set myself up for the shot. As I approached him he looked dead in my lens and gave the expression you see above. I clicked the shutter and boom. This is what it became.

The Photograph

This shot is one of my favorite photos for one main reason. It’s composition is very symmetric. One of the aspects of cinematography and photography that I enjoy the most is composition. Upon looking at the above image more and more you can see how the composition and it’s symmetric nature add to the photo. Starting in the top right of the frame we have the windows with shades pulled down. Not only do these windows frame the subjects head but the lines that travel horizontally also sync with the lines created by his forehead wrinkles. If we travel down the subjects body a little further we see that the stripes of his shirt cuff also travel horizontally matching up with his forehead wrinkles and the window shades. I can almost see antlers or horns coming from the subjects head created by the shadows.

There are a lot of separate parts that tie this image together and i’m very happy with how it came out.  I believe the composition and the subject matter work together equally to make the photo interesting. Most of the above photo came about through being in the right place at the right time. Another part was luck, and only a very small part was skill.

What do you think of this photo? What do you like or dislike? What would you have done differently? Let me know below! If you have questions about these featured photos that were not answered in the post then please feel free to ask them in the comments.

Posted in new photo day, Photos, Street Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

First Impressions: Shooting Street Photography with a Flash

Street photography is a way of capturing candid photos of people in their own worlds and environments. It can sometimes be hard to muster up the courage to stand two feet away from someone and take their picture. It can be even more difficult to do this with a camera in one hand and a flash in the other, while both are simultaneously pointed at said person(s). I’ve been exploring a lot of different forms of street photography since a few months back when I started and I have to say its one of the greatest experiences I have ever done. I’ve been out now about four times with a flash. Here is what I know.

Photo taken by Tyler Bedgood. Licence Attribution. Click image for more info including exif data.

Despite what I thought, it turns out you are NOT more likely to get hit in the face whilst using your flash. 

This is quite interesting actually. I was totally in my head before I went out the first time with a flash. I thought about it too much (never think about shooting too much, you’ll talk yourself out of it). I was under the impression that using a flash would draw more attention to me. That it would make the people more aware and more aggravated. After I finally worked up enough guts to go out, or rather, forced myself to go out with my guts in my throat for the first hour, I got used to it and guess what! People act exactly the same way as they do if you don’t have a flash. Most don’t care or notice, some look at you strange and you smile or avoid eye contact and walk away, and even fewer ask you if you just took their picture. To which I sometimes respond “yes, I like your X” and sometimes “no, that thing behind you” depending on their intonation. You would think that a flash would be more noticeable than a camera shooting off in your direction and it might be, but the take away is that people don’t react more aggressively.

Photo taken by Tyler Bedgood. Licence Attribution. Click image for more info including exif data.

Shooting with your flash in one hand and camera in the other is freaking great, and not as hard as I thought.

When I first watched videos of Bruce Gilden or Thomas Leuthard shooting in the streets with a flash I thought to myself “but I usually have two hands on my camera at all times, how can I do that!” It took a little experimenting in the mirror at home but it all boiled down to an f8, 1/40th shutter, 400 iso, and a zone focused camera at about 3 feet. Results may vary and I often switched up the intensity of my flash for going head to toe framing vs head to waist. That is my basic set up and it seems to work well. The best part about having a flash free from the camera is the ability to move it wherever you would like. You can shoot it from above, from below, from the side, from different angles, it’s amazing. I really find it to be great because I can get a feel for my subject(s) as I approach and determine the lighting I want for the picture I am about to take. If they look sad, happy, blank, tired, lost, confused etc… I can decide how I want my flash to add or subtract from those feelings.

Photo taken by Tyler Bedgood. Licence Attribution. Click image for more info including exif data.

Using a flash adds one more element to think about, but don’t think about it. 

One thing that become difficult for me at first was having to worry about all my camera settings and then in addition, all my flash settings. I haven’t really used flash before so this was all new to me. I went out to shoot and was constantly thinking about how strong my flash should be and at what zoom distance should it be set to. I came to realize, after a little bit of shooting that this way of thinking was not working. So I set up my camera and my flash and then left it. If you are going for full body shots then set your stats and leave them that way until you want to shoot something else. It’s tough to do this because you become afraid of missing that defining moment that might have looked better in a frame that you are not set up to capture. However, just like using a lens with one focal length it helps to use a flash with one setting of power and distance. If you see that defining moment shoot it with the framing you are set up for. Do it without thinking. If it turns out bad then get the next one and so on and so forth. If you waste time adjusting your flash (or your cameras settings) then you’ll miss the shot all together.

Photo taken by Tyler Bedgood. Licence Attribution. Click image for more info including exif data.

A flash is a flash that adds flash to a photo.

Shooting street photography with a flash is very fun. You don’t get punched in the face and most of the time no one even notices. It gives me a chance to capture moments that I would not be able to capture otherwise. It presents each photo with its own feel that can help add to the emotion of the subject as well as the photo overall. Next, I want to try shooting with a flash in daylight.

Have you ever shot in the streets with a flash? What do you think about using a flash for street photography? How do you or would you do it? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for viewing. 

Posted in Flash, Photos, Street Photography | 2 Comments

New Photo Day #3

New Photo Day! On a regular basis I will be uploading new street photos to flickr and posting them to my blog with a short story as to how they were captured. Including details technical, methodical, and other important tidbits on the photo.

(Above image taken by Tyler Bedgood. Licence Attribution. Click image for exif data. )

Today I am happy to share with you all my favorite picture. I took this image the second or third time I was out shooting street photography. That’s crazy because I really had no idea what I was doing. Heck, for the most part, I still don’t.

The Capture

So I am walking along on my way back home after about an hour or so worth of shooting the streets near my neighborhood. As I look around I see a glint of a flowery pink and white dress. It barely caught my attention as it peeked out from around the corner of a doorway. I immediately starting thinking to myself “What’s going on. Get it, go get it!” I hurried my pace a bit and walked up to where I saw that fraction of a dress retire. By the time I got there the picture you see above was what I saw. I quickly brought my camera to my eye and bent down, snapping off a few shots. I didn’t even get to process the event before I started shooting. After I brought my camera down from my face and looked at the children and grandmother standing there all done up in the doorway I thought “oh my god, did I really just get that?” I smiled and I said “Beautiful.” and kept walking.

The Photograph

I’m going to go ahead and agree with all of you who are probably thinking “lucky shot.” I couldn’t believe it myself when I reviewed the image a few days later. To me this image is the best image I’ve taken. The expressions on their faces are perfect, I love how they were standing and framed within the doorway. It’s clear these children and grandmother were about to take part in some type of ceremony. Whether it was a wedding or religious event I am not sure. Either way the image speaks to me in many ways. The children looking like adults with their blank stares in tow. The older adult lady, tissue in hand prepared to cry. And once more those who are in the back who we can barely see. All of them part of time in that moment. Living, breathing and thinking unique thoughts.

What do you think of this photo? What do you like or dislike? What would you have done differently? Let me know below! If you have questions about these featured photos that were not answered in the post then please feel free to ask them in the comments.

Posted in new photo day, Photos, Street Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sticking with your passion

As creative people who have found our callings it can sometimes be hard to find a part of that calling that we are very passionate about. Sure we have a certain amount of passion for our calling to have it be a calling in general. But more specifically i’m talking about finding that special niche within our chosen fields that really pluck the heart strings. For a computer programmer it could be finding a certain programming language to program apps with, or for a doctor, finding a practice that is most rewarding to him or her, or finally, for a photographer finding a style or genre of photography that he or she enjoys above all others. The important thing to do once these passions are found is to stick with them. Even through all the complications that might arise.

“Take Me” License: Attribution. Taken by Tyler Bedgood. Click image for exif data.

Early on in our creative travels it is easy to get discouraged. We might have found our calling or our medium but there are so many caveats or side streets to take on our journey. It is very much a journey. Just like life, love, or going to the grocery store. What we must do when faced with these caveats is stick to our passion. For example, if your passion is  developmental psychology. As you progress in this field you may realize that there have already been studies or advances that you yourself may have wanted to study. This may cause you to then choose an area of psychology that is less practiced where there is more room for growth. The downfall here is that you are letting go of your passion and grabbing onto a less rewarding class in your chosen field. And only so that you may gain more validation for your work. Thats a whole different post however.

“Untitled” License: Attribution. Taken by Tyler Bedgood. Click image for exif data.

If you stick with your passion and push through the imitations, mental blocks, stagnation, and discouraging creations, you will eventually arrive at your breakthroughs, which leads you to your unique vision and style, which is followed by your masterpiece. All of the greatest creators in any field have traveled similar journeys with similar problems but have prevailed by sticking with their passion. These are the people you hear about, Henri Cartier Bresson with street photography, Shigeru Miyamoto with nintendo, Sigmunnd motherf***ing Frued with psychology.

“When…” License: Attribution. Taken by Tyler Bedgood. Click image for exif data.

Put simply if you are passionate about an aspect of your your calling or medium hold true to that passion. Stay on the bus and ride it to its destination, (the previous link is what inspired this post) don’t let yourself be taken to a different route because the work has already been done or you go through a rough period.

“Untitled” License: Attribution. Taken by Tyler Bedgood. Click image for exif data.

What is your passion? Have you ever been discouraged along the way? Do you think that sticking with your passion is the right thing to do?

Posted in Photos, Street Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

New Photo Day #2

New Photo Day! On a regular basis I will be uploading new street photos to flickr and posting them to my blog with a short story as to how they were captured. Including details technical, methodical, and other important tidbits on the photo.

A New Perspective. Image taken by Tyler Bedgood. CC – Attribution. Click the Image for exif data.

The Capture

I was riding on the bus with my camera tucked away in it’s bag on my way to shoot some photos. Step one, never have your camera in your bag when you are planning to take photos in the first place.

As I was sitting there thinking about the pictures I was hoping to get that day I noticed a child step onto the bus with his mother. He was holding a toy to his eye and looking through it as he walked the isle. I thought to myself “man that would have made a good photo!” Right at about that moment I realized my camera was off, un-configured, and resting inside a bag.

To make matters worse or in my case, better the child sat in the seat right in front of me and continued looking through the toy out the window as the bus traveled. I couldn’t pass this up and luckily I had the time to take out my camera, configure it and snap off a few shots. This is where the story gets good. As I was capturing- ill call her a concerned patron – from across the way starting shouting at me and asking what I was doing. I recall, she said something like “Do you have his mother’s permission to be taking his photo?! That’s like a pedophile.” to which I simply responded “no” and finished getting my shots.

All was well however, I handed the very flabbergasted onlooker my contact information and got off at my stop with the shot intact. Turns out the mother cared not about the photos and everyone went unharmed. It’s not very often you get a second chance at a great moment. I considered myself lucky, accused pedophile or not. Also i’m not convinced that will be the last time someone is going to call me a pedophile.

The Photograph

To me this photograph speaks out in a couple of ways. You have the innocence of childhood represented by the subject and his toy, but you also have the subtle undertone of how children see the world from a different perspective. They surely don’t see the things we see as we see them. An atm is not an express bank transaction, but a magic money machine where you key in a few numbers and get free money. I’d love to know the thoughts that were traveling through this little dude’s brain as he was looking through that object. He certainly was not seeing or thinking what the rest of us were and that is pretty cool.

What do you think of this photo? What do you like or dislike? What would you have done differently? Let me know below! If you have questions about these featured photos that were not answered in the post then please feel free to ask in your comments.

Posted in new photo day, Photos, Street Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments