Being that I have a lot of time these days I’ve been able to go through a years full of my photos and I have to say it’s been a good learning experience for me. I was able to see my own progression over a year and I realize that things really started to click for me at around September of last year as far as the quality of the photos I was taking. I shot as often as I could to keep practicing so I’ve collected a great quantity of images. Some I think are great photos, some are decent but a lot were not good at all. Even some of the ones I thought were good at the time I now think aren’t so good anymore. Ever post a photo and then realize later that it wasn’t really that good? Yea, me too. I jumped the gun. It was too soon. I should’ve let the photo marinate.
I learned to let my photos marinate. What I mean by that is to let them sit for a period of time before presenting them. This could be a few days, a week or even a year. Street photography is personal work so there’s no real due date and there’s no real rush. The time spent away from the photos disconnects your emotions and vivid memories towards those photos. Then once you view them again it provides the ability to see them more with a critical eye. An eye for what really works and what doesn’t. The emotion you feel when taking the photo can blind you at times. Letting photos marinate can allow you to narrow down and pick out only the ones really worth presenting and posting.
Someone I respect also told me once that the less you give the more they want. That really struck me because not only does it relate to so many things in life but applying it to presenting photographs made sense too. With so many different social media sites and image posting websites street photographers are posting more consistently and abundantly. It’s kind of become over-saturated and seems to have become more about quantity than quality. I’m sure many would agree. It’s also instant gratification which so many of us suffer from. For many just getting into street photography, it’s an exciting thing shooting, getting involved with the various communities and wanting to share your photos. I share this enthusiasm but if “your first 10,000 photos are your worst” then might as well take your time and only show the best of them.
While out on the street shooting with a digital camera I can shoot a lot of photos in one day. Out of that if there’s at least one keeper that day I’m a happy person. Once I download my photos I go through them briefly and then get rid of any that were test shots or ones that are just plain horrible. I might process some just a little to get them close to what I’d like and then let them marinate for awhile. Editing your photos is a huge part of photography and likely the most important part. I go through particular dates in my Lightroom catalog after some time has passed and find it easier to see the ones that stand out. Even after editing those photos for that day I’ll let them marinate for some time longer just to make sure I really like them. Sometimes there’s one that I didn’t quite notice the first time but ended up being a pretty strong photo. Over all, it’s a difficult process to do because you really have to be hard on yourself.
So, try letting your photos marinate. Try being a little more critical of your work. Present what you think is your best. Quality over quantity.