So my book dummy arrived last week. yay :-)
It's kind of funny to notice the different "feels" a particular image has, depending on which medium, or in which circumstance, you view it. Heck even my mood makes me thoroughly dislike an image I've loved five minutes before. And vice versa. And this goes on all the time... Being able to delete at the touch of a button is NOT a good thing at these moments :-/
I guess it's kind of logical that the above is true. but the thing that sometimes floats around in my mind is: is my mood "right"? So will "the" edit be "correct"? What is "correct"? What if i make the "wrong" edit? Is there even such a thing as "the" edit?
Oh my god. Too many parentheses.
Actually I'm sure that the "definitive" edit is a myth... Every project I do, has at least half a dozen, and sometimes many more edits. All these edits come together in a story: that one, all-encompassing mega-edit that is the sum of all potential useful images. And there's more: every project has potentially many stories. And to complicate things even further: as a person you develop different visions over time... Imagine keeping all this in mind while you're making that one edit.
And all you can look at is one image at a time.
Basically I guess it boils down to this:
Know thyself very well, what you stand for, who you are as a person.
What you can, and more importantly, what you cannot do.
Knowing this, is your greatest strength.
As time progresses, definitely in long term, documentary-like photography projects, your vision, your story, your edits, continually adjust themselves and multiply or outright influence each other. Being able to keep track of all these things, is imho a good base to tell stories in a solid way (through different edits/projects) and develop a strong artistic vision (over time, over different projects, as a photographer, as a person, as a storyteller).
OK sorry... Enough over-analyzing... Basically I just started out writing this because when I held the book dummy in my hands earlier this week, it reminded me of how much pure fun it is to edit and edit and edit again and to foster and see it all grow and come together... I take months to do it, the slower the better. It's like getting into a brand new relationship with the same images, completely different than the relationship you already have because of making them in the first place... And not at all mutually exclusive... Powerful stuff.
Being able to distinguish between these two "modes" is the key: being able to "divorce" yourself from re-living the moment you took the picture, so you can make that good edit, tell that story.
Of course i'm not forgetting about the major importance of being able to build that initial relationship with your subject(s) in the first place... Because this is where it all starts... If no relationship here, then no chance of ever being able to tell a story, develop a vision... Your own CONNECTION to the subject at the time of photographing... It is the CORE of being able to make a unique story... To be able to feel the story developing in front of you... See your growing vision... To be able to let go of all worldly things and simply get in "the zone" while shooting....
So it's crucial to have both. Go figure. Hard thing to do. As if having one of the two wasn't hard enough to begin with. how on earth can i divorce myself from those "moments", and look at the picture in a solely media/edit-biased way without instantly being transported back to the moment? and switch back and forth between modes in an instant?
"Hi, i'm anton, picture editor."
"Hi, i'm anton, photographer."
What i do to solve this is basically the following: i let time go over the edits. i let places go over the edits. i let people go over the edits.
For example: small prints are hanging up on the wall in my studio in Belgium, natural light, almost clinical, moving around constantly as my mood changes, like an ever-growing edit;
opposed to that,
yesterday night, Taka-san, dear friend and fixer for this project, held this first book dummy in his hands in his tiny smoky four-person-max-occupancy bar in the red light district in Tokyo at 1 a.m., leafing through it over beers in a steady pace, in low light, sometimes pausing, sometimes asking a question. Nodding affirmatively, sometimes even emotional. Then my brother Malik, Taka-san and i light a cigarette, have a beer, and fall silent.
Which situation would you prefer?
Jeez that was elaborate... Basically only to say that it feels different to see someone literally hold your images in their hands in a book in a far away place in the middle of the night, making their own unique story while leafing through....