Don't Edit In the Field November 25 2007, 0 Comments

A while back I was taking a class at the Maine Photographic Workshops. It had been on my list of places to study photography and I finally stopped looking at the catalogs and enrolled in their summer program. It is a wonderful place to learn the art of photography and the best of the best teach there. On the first night of the program it is customary to gather and see who has been there before, have the instructors introduced and hear a bit of a pep talk designed to inspire. On this particular evening, the speaker was talking about letting go of pre-conceived ideas and letting the creative person within take over! Then he said, “Oh yeah…and don’t edit in the field!” This seemed odd to me because I was using a film camera. The course I was taking required the use of slide film. The course was a wonderful experience and I returned home to Charleston and my digital camera. I had never noticed before, but I started to see people using their digital cameras and then looking down at the camera. I was at a wedding shortly after that course and the photographer kept looking down at the camera and frantically pushing buttons! It was then that I realized that he was editing his work as he was shooting the images.

As a film trained photographer, it had not even occurred to me to look at what I was recording. I would simply measure the light, search for the right angle, set the shot up and shoot. If I didn’t like it once the film was developed, I would re-shoot. I still largely adhere to that philosophy. I don’t want to be distracted by the image on the back of the camera. And I wonder how many fun or interesting shots have been lost to “editing in the field”. I mean how can you tell on a two by two and a half inch screen?

The holidays are upon us once again. This is a great time to take a multitude of photos! Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Try forgetting that the viewing screen is on the back of the camera. You may lose an opportunity to take a really memorable photo if you aren’t paying attention to the moment.

2. Be sure to have extra memory cards on hand. The price has come down so drastically that you can pick up extra cards very reasonably at discount stores.

Note: When you have made your prints or backed up your images on a CD or hard drive from your memory card, be sure to FORMAT the card when you put it back into your camera. Formatting your memory card keeps the card fresh, kind of like erasing the blackboard after you are done with what is written on it. This not only keeps your card in good user condition, it helps to record your prints accurately as the card gets more and more use.

3. And finally, don’t edit until you can sit quietly and review your images. I almost never “toss” any images. I back them up on a hard drive and then print just my favorites. Sometimes, even years later I have found that some of the images I didn’t care for or didn’t think I would have a use for have become valuable to me and often have been pieces that have been commercially successful!