As photographers we are taught very early on to cull our photos. We go through all the shots we’ve taken through out projects and whittle it all down to a workable product with a concise theme and message that we can then share with the rest of the world. It becomes so normal and second nature that I’ve recoiled in absolute terror upon someone setting eyes on my unsorted, unedited work. The idea of others, even photographers, seeing untouched work sends shivers down my spine.
The sorting and editing is of course part of the course but ultimately what people see at the end of the day is only the sorted and polished best works we chose to put out. Along that path we end up going through many shots which end up never seeing the light of day. Out of focus, poorly composed, overexposed etc etc, it7s all there even if we’ve been holding a camera to our faces for many years.
The downside of it all, personally from my experience anyways and certainly in my case, is it can have an impact on how we approach some of our work. I know for me there have been situations recently where I avoided taking the shot (creatively) as I assumed it would turn out poorly and would be tossed when it came time to cull. I really want to get away from that sort of thinking. That is, not taking chances on shots because they may not work. Now, how does this relate to culling in more detail you may ask. I have no doubt I’m not the only one who has gone through their work sorting photos all the while thinking “What the hell was I thinking!?” We tend to be our own worst critics and in that time, especially when we attempted to shoot things more creatively and “fail” to reach our expectations we can convince ourselves of some pretty cruel things.
Because of this at more times than I’d like to personally admit I’ve taken the safe path on certain projects. Yeah, it’s nice to go through and have the peace of mind of the proven track but we lose a lot in the process. We may refine our skills a little in the process but we stop growing when we chose to play it safe and not make mistaken. In the end we learn a great deal when we take chances and make mistakes.