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Monday, December 6, 2010

The waiting game


Did you ever shoot with film? I’m betting you did. Whether your purpose was capturing vacation memories, family snapshots, or even if you had artistic intentions, I’m sure you remember the process. First step, buy the film, followed of course by shooting your photographs. Then you had to find the time to drop the film off at your choice of developer -- maybe a camera lab, maybe the local drugstore -- then you had to WAIT for your photos to be developed. No instant images spitting out of a machine, no one-hour guarantees. Certainly no computer screen to view then on! You had to wait for several days to get your pictures back, when you could finally see your images, oftentimes weeks after you’d actually taken the photographs.

I was watching a photography show on Bravo a short time ago and the photographer who was being interviewed said something that made me sit up and take notice. He commented that, when he travelled, before he switched to digital, he shot many, many rolls of film, but of course they wouldn’t be developed until he was home and, in the meantime, he had no idea how his photos turned out. And he loved that! He told the interviewer that the immediacy of digital photography actually took away a lot of his pleasure and appreciation of his images. His point seemed to be that he needed to put the experience well behind him before viewing the photographs he took. And so he started to forego the routine of rushing back to his hotel each evening, to download and view his shots. He takes all his photos, same as always, and I believe he said he downloads them onto his laptop as a backup, but now he never looks at his photographs until well after he returns home.

I gave this a lot of thought. My process, since going digital, has been exactly as he described: reviewing all my photos very soon after they were taken. But I remembered having to wait, back in the film days, and how wonderful it was to finally see what I had shot. I got to relive the experience all over again, whether it was a family party or a trip or even just a photographic walkabout, instead of seeing the photos while I was still immersed in the experience. Patience really has a big payback.

So lately, I’ve made a deliberate effort to go back through photographs I’ve shot not recently, but at least several months back, if not years. I had a look through the photographs I shot in Chicago in April, for example, pleasantly surprised by many photos I had forgotten I had taken. I saw them with fresh eyes. And then there’s the snowman, above. I shot that image when I was just fooling around with some macro photography; I took the picture about two years ago and found it recently only because I was looking through old folders of images. I sat here, looking at the snowman, and ideas just started flowing.

I urge you…….go back through your old shots. I guarantee you’ll have forgotten many of them and viewing them will be a real pleasure. I’m also betting that you have likely learned digital techniques that you didn’t know when you took the pictures, techniques you can now apply to those shots. Have fun exploring and I hope you find some gems hidden away on your hard drive.

6 comments:

Leslie Jane Moran said...

I love this photo, AND your seasonal blog header. I feel another lesson coming on:) For me it's not such a long shot about reviewing photos. I have been know to forget what I took as little as a week ago some times!:) Very good advice. Now, a tutorial on blog headers????

Mary Helen-Art Saves Lives said...

I appreciate being reminded to go back once in awhile...to check images and compositions and decide the next "what If?" steps. Lovely. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

Tess Kincaid said...

Excellent advice!

Susan Williamson said...

What a great post, and what great advice! I don't know whether or not it's the passage of time, but some of the photos I took years ago actually look better now. I discovered this when I was looking through photos yesterday to send to my niece and it was quite a revelation ...although I certainly didn't express it as eloquently as you did.

Diane O. said...

Haven't shot film in this decade to my recall BUT did shot a lot "in the day". Used to shoot and process my B&W late in high school and all through college until I lost access to a darkroom. I remember going to Desert Storm when I was in the USAF and not wanting to get my film processed until I got back for fear it would be ruined or lost. It was agonizing waiting over six months to see some photos. All in all though the best pictures are in your head even if it wasn't what it really looked like!

martha brown said...

I still occasionally shoot with film. But, almost as good, something is wonky with my camera (a fairly new Nikon DSLR)and it won't let me review photos! So they are surprises until I get home. (I'm sure that I can fix this issue by reading the manual,but laziness has stepped in)

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