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Home > Emotional Ties to Images – Kill Your Darlings

Since the advent of digital photography, the way photographers work and capture images is very different to how they used to on a roll of film.

Emotional Ties to Images – Kill Your Darlings

Of course, now, we can keep our finger on the release button and fire as many times as we want and select the perfect photo.

But this doesn’t mean we can be clumsy in how we take pictures or that anyone can do it. We must still understand light and composition, and be able to spot an opportunity when it arises.

And, then, what about after we’ve grabbed the ‘perfect image’? How do we feel about it? Why is it so difficult if someone critiques our beloved photograph?

Sadly, there’s little escaping the emotional attached to our images.
We recall emotionally when we took it, the sounds, the smells, the connections which remain with us – the effort required. That is why when you look at someone else’s work it is much easier to weed out the problems.

A good exercise we teach at our London photography courses is to keep whittling down their images to have a concise body of work. Instead of having masses of images on a social media site, go back and delete. Then delete some more, and delete again.

This does not mean delete from your hard-drive, but just from that space. Do this on Instagram, for example, and you’ll soon find how rewarding a process it can be. Destruction is an act of creation – by taking pieces away from the whole, you’ll be adding greater value to those images that remain.

To effectively achieve this, you will have to remove your ego from the process – no easy task, but you are not your photographs. When people critique or criticise your photographs, they aren’t criticising you but criticising your photos, and they are able to do this by virtue of being removed from your process. They are objective. You must learn to be objective, also.

Here, consideration is key: consideration of your images when you are taking a photo. Consideration of your images when you are editing. Consideration of your images when you upload to social media or website. And finally, consideration of your images every three months to ensure they are edited for quality.

A way of starting to think about this issue more is to use film. This is more expensive and slows you down, so that instead of taking lots of images and simply choosing the best one, you will be forced to consider each step of the process far more carefully.

Another option is to stop chimping with your digital camera. What is chimping? This is an unhealthy addiction that runs rampant within the digital photography community. It is the act of looking at you LCD screen the second after you’ve taken an image. Chimping stops you while in the flow of connecting with your subject, and becomes a barrier to your feeling for whatever it is you are trying to capture, whether a person, animal, plant, object or situation.

Don’t delete from looking only on your small LCD screen on camera. Wait till you are on a larger screen and editing. You could be deleting a little gem.

It takes time and experience to get the images that you want. This is why it is good to go back and delete; your style and tastes might be changing. It is better to have just a few very strong images than a big number of average ones. Weak images will dilute the quality of your larger body of work.

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