The Gallery of Forgotten Images
Everyone has their quirks, and while I’d rather not go into a list of mine, (since they all seem perfectly reasonable to me) it’s worth mentioning one photo-related quirk. While not always true, for the most part, when I return from a shoot, I usually don’t look at any of my images. Sometimes, in fact, I wait months before reviewing my shots. I understand that I’m in the minority in this regard, and that there are a number of arguments for why you should review your images right away. And while I’m not going to try to convince anyone that letting images “cure” for a while is the best practice, I am going to show some examples here of how returning for another look at projects you thought were finished can lead to some nice discoveries.
I suppose the general reason that I usually don’t look at images right away can be summed up in a single word: cowardice. I simply don’t want to be disappointed by what I find, and with the reality of the scenes still fresh in my mind, photos are too often disappointing. But if I wait a while – weeks, sometimes even months – then when I look at my images, it’s almost as if I’m looking at someone else’s pictures. I tend to look with a much fresher eye, have a better appreciation of the images, and often find I’m more enthusiastic than when I look at images immediately after shooting.
Over the weekend, I had to prowl through some old shoots to find images that could be used for an upcoming tutorial project. I did a lot of traveling last year, and decided to begin my image foraging by searching through the images from some of those journeys. I had already been through these folders and worked up some of the images. But on this perusal, I spotted some unprocessed images that I hadn’t given serious thought to before, and I managed to work them into final images that I liked.
Somewhere in Missouri.
What I found particularly interesting about this project was that it was a lot like shooting. As I looked through the thumbnails in Bridge, my eye would be caught by a play of the light in one image, or an almost-complete compositional idea in another. In other words, I was engaged in the same visual process that you go through when shooting, the difference being that those same things had caught my eye before, and so I already had them captured.
While I remembered all of the locations, I didn’t necessarily remember shooting these particular shots, so it was interesting to discover that whatever the initial impulses were when I shot, they were still strong enough ideas that I could see them when returning to the images. So, I worked up the files into finished pictures.
These aren’t my most favorite images – after all, they didn’t make the first cut, when I originally worked through the projects – but finding them was a fun process.
So, if you find yourself unable to get out shooting, or if weather foils your plans, or if you find yourself felled by a winter cold, try taking a safari through your existing archive. You might find material you didn’t know you had.