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Friday, June 26, 2009

Taming the Editing Beast

Every photographer comes to that scary moment when they have to edit their work. How do you handle it? Do you freak out and put everything in or do you spend days and days playing with images until you can’t see the forest for the trees?

Very few photographers are able to edit their own work. Some think the more they include, the better people will like their work. They are unwilling to let anything go; yet they often reject their own work often as being “old.” Others don’t know where to begin, so they delay updating their websites and portfolios. I find what photographers like about their own work often has very little to do with the work itself. Maybe it was the person you worked with that made the experience great, or it was a wonderful day when everything went well.

So where do you begin? Try asking yourself these questions:
• When you’re sitting on your coach with the remote, how long before you click to the next channel?
• How long does it take for you to figure out what’s on that channel?
• How long does it take to decide to stay or move on?

That is exactly how your audience looks at your work. You cannot expect them to spend a lot of time on each image. You need to think about how people look at things these days, and these days we make strong decisions in very little time.

You have to think like your audience. Looking at a portfolio is like a little vacation for a photo editor or art buyer. Are you giving them an experience they will enjoy? Does the work flow from one photograph to the next in a way that not only makes sense, but also makes the viewer want to keep turning the pages? When there is too much work a busy person won’t even start looking, because they feel they won’t have the time to finish.

It’s too bad there aren’t any hard and fast rules everyone can follow to make their work sing. Editing is an art, and it’s a different experience for each photographer. It’s the number one problem photographers have (or maybe number two after finding paying work), and it’s the thing many photographers don’t invest in. If you want to show your work with confidence, you need to face the demon that is EDITING, and tame it. You can ask your friends and family to look and offer their opinions, you can turn to other photographers, or you can seek out a professional who can offer a fresh outsiders view. It’s your decision, and it’s going to be one of the most important decisions you make.

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