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If You Flip Past Fast Enough...It's a Movie

October 23, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

This week I'm going to discuss something that my uncle drilled into my head, and now that I've seen it elsewhere, I can honestly say "Thank You!" for doing so.  When I first started out, I used to post every photo to Facebook that wasn't blurry.  If you don't believe me, check out my some of my early stuff from the Buffalo Museum of Science on my personal Facebook page. The problem with doing that is that you then have a series of essentially the same photo, with only minor differences.  They may be all excellent shots of their own accord, but you don't need or want to see 12 shots of the same Velociraptor skeleton from about 10° difference. Sure they're all in sharp focus, maybe I played with the aperture a little bit to get a shallow Depth of Field, or a deep Depth of Field, but essentially, They. Are. All. The. Same.

My uncle saw that album, and basically chewed me out in his way for doing it, and I don't blame him.  If I, as the photographer that took the photos, am getting bored going through the album, when I know and can pick out every nuance of the "different" shots...imagine how someone looking at my gallery must feel where they may not necessarily be able to pick out all those minute differences. 

This sentiment of paring everything down and showing only your best was reiterated to me last Friday during the Scott Kelby "Shoot Like a Pro Tour" seminar.

Sometimes it's very difficult not to do it too, the biggest scenarios I can think of are things like the Museum, or events like the Renaissance Festival.  At the museum I had an hour lunch...every day...with nowhere to go.  So I'd eat my bagged lunch in about 10 minutes, then wander the museum for about 45 with my camera before heading back to my desk.  So when you spend roughly 225 minutes (3 hours and 45 minutes) a week in a place that (at the time) doesn't change a whole lot...or at all save for one or two traveling exhibits at a time...that's roughly 187.5 hours a year. (For those following the math, 45 minutes x 5 for one week, which is 225.  225 x 50 weeks (figure 52 weeks in a year, minus holidays and vacation time) = 11250 minutes / 60 minutes in an hour = 187.5...whew), Anyway, that's 187.5 hours a year...in a place that most people don't spend more than 3 hours in total.  From that timeframe subtract the exhibits that don't allow photography at all, and well...you have a lot of photos, of the same exhibits, day after day, week after week.  I probably catalogued every exhibit piece in that museum that I was allowed...a couple of times.  In fact at one point I had made it my goal to do just that, just so I didn't shoot the same things twice. 

Special Events, or events like the Renaissance Festival can pose a similar problem.  If you follow my Facebook Page or on Twitter then you'll often see a post with something to the effect of "Just edited down 578 photos to 57."  This doesn't mean that I took 521 photos that were bad and only 57 came out nice due to divine luck.  It means that I have gone through those 578 shots and found 57 that passed all the tests, and are unique enough to not get culled.  As I mentioned in a previous post, Narrowing Down Your Shots, I use the method described by photographer Steve Simon, and will eliminate similar shots in the 2nd or 3rd step before posting them online. 

By the way, the 2nd and 3rd steps, are where my wife really hates being a photographer's wife.  I'll show her my screen with two similar images side by side and play "optometrist" with her.  "Honey, left or right?" If I'm lucky she'll choose one.  If I'm not she'll say, "I like the left one because of X, but I like the right one because of Y." If she's unlucky, I have another similar image, and will continue the game until I'm down to one image of that particular subject.

Quite often she'll look at me and say, "They're both good, just post both."  For the most part I refuse to do this if there are only minor differences, for the very reasons mentioned above. 

As someone who gets to wander the festival site with camera in tow, there are many, many times that I've taken multiple shots of something, whether it's the joust, or Don Juan & Miguel, or an interesting patron. Of course I'm not the only one with a camera, and I often see other albums of the festival.  Fairly often I start looking through an album and I will see that out of 700+ photos, I see what I would've narrowed down to about 70 unique shots. 

Now, I don't say this to be negative.  I'm a firm believer in "to each their own," and as I said previously, I would've narrowed down the shots more, but I definitely think narrowing down your shots is a good idea, and I thank my uncle profusely for hammering that into my head.


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