My Photo Editor Mind – “I read the news today, oh boy”

To everyone who works in the news industry and spends countless hours seeking out the truth, thank you for keeping our governments, corporations, institutions, etc. in check, informing us about what is happening in our neighborhoods and our world. Keep up the good work; you are doing an indispensable and important job. And to those journalists who have experienced violence, threats, and reactionary criticism, stay strong. You are the guardians of truth and justice, and they must be protected. The news industry, especially newspapers, will always be a part of me, and I truly respect your dedication. 

My Photo Editor Mind - Emmy Judging Round 2

Getting ready to judge round two for the 39th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards. I can’t talk about any specifics of what I judged in the first round, but I can say it’s great to see innovation when it comes to telling stories. Can’t wait for round two.

My Photo Editor Mind - Best Editing Advice

After I have completed a rather large edit for a project or story or even a website, there is one thing I always do – go through all the outtakes. Seriously, all of them. I recently edited a project and had decided on my final selection. The sequence was right, the flow of images was right, each photo building on each other, telling the story. I felt it was complete; I was done. Then as I always do, I went through the outtakes.

The process of editing is a process of elimination, so you finally have a set of photos that works, but through this process, you might have deleted an image that actually works with the final edit that may not have worked with your initial thoughts on the edit.

I always check my outtakes, and on this recent project I actually pulled images back into the edit that were initially discarded. Be patient with the process; you’ve spent an awful lot of time to get these images, now take as much care in editing them. And if you need help, you know I’m here to help.

My Photo Editor Mind - Website Design

I have been getting a lot of questions lately about website design. My answer is always the same; concentrate on content, and the design will usually fix itself. I’m not saying design is not important; of course you want to make it easy to navigate around your site, but what truly matters is the work.

When you are organizing your images, think of the categories that emphasis the work you want to do and who you are as a photographer. You can’t be everything to everyone. I find that photographers excel when they are shooting what they love, whether it be stories, or daily life, etc. That’s not to say you shouldn’t add certain categories that compliment your passion. I recently worked with a photographer and after viewing her website, I really didn’t understand who she was as a photographer. After a short conversation about the images, finding out what they meant to her, we then proceeded to re-categorize her images into concise categories that not only showed off her style, but what she excelled at.  

We didn’t change it much in regards to design because we didn’t have to. Each category now had a defined thought and vision. So when you viewed the site it was clear what her message was and who she was as a photographer.  

My Photo Editor Mind - Good photo stories don’t just happen

I’m going to explain this in simple terms to get my point across about planning. Imagine you are shooting a wedding; whether or not you realize it, you’re probably thinking of the various shots that will complete this story. You need the bride getting ready, the groom walking down the aisle, etc. You might also be thinking about how you can make that walking down the aisle pic look different…hmm, is there a high vantage point? You also might want to shoot details of the ring, get a portrait of the bride, and on and on. You know the narrative (we all know the narrative of a typical wedding), so you can think about the different ways and angles to complete the story. Put this all together, and you have the makings of a thoughtful collection of images – opening shot, closing shot, details, sense of place, etc.

A long time ago when I was young and foolish, I spent six months covering a story with the idea that if I shot enough rolls of film, I would have a story…automatically! Wrong! I had to learn this the hard way, so learn from my mistakes and don’t be me.

Think about your narrative. What’s the story? What’s the point? Why are you shooting this? Imagine the set of images you will have when you are done. Does it tell the story? Plan, research, write down notes, consider all possibilities, and then be open for the unplanned, unanticipated events that could be great shots.  

Figuring out the narrative beforehand will give you a roadmap to success.

My Photo Editor Mind - You can’t handle the truth

Clients always tell me they want me to be honest with them about their work. And I am honest…brutally. When I was a photographer, I knew the only way to improve was to hear the truth about my work, but that’s not to say a few critiques didn’t leave me in tears. I think you have to see your images for what they are, not what you felt when you shot them. Sure, your friends will tell you how awesome your work is and what a great photographer you are, but let’s face it; they have to. They are your friends. That’s not a real measure of quality.  Accepting your images for what they are is a huge accomplishment and part of the learning process. So next time you say you want the truth from me, rest assured you’re going to get it.

My Photo Editor Mind - I’m an Emmy Judge!

I was just notified that I will be judging the 39th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards starting in a few weeks. I’m judging rounds 1 and 2; not sure how all of this works, but time will tell. This is a first for me; excited to see some great work.  

My Photo Editor Mind - Are You Curious?

I recently watched the movie Truth about CBS News anchor Dan Rather and producer Mary Mapes. It’s an average but interesting movie, but what struck me the most was a scene where Dan Rather is asked why he got into journalism. His answer? Curiosity. I started to think about curiosity and asked myself if I was the curious type. I thought about if my friends and the people I admire are curious. It seems to me that you have to be a curious person if you want to more than just good at something – but instead, really great at it. Curiosity helps you know your subject, or topic, or motivation intimately, and knowing these things intimately helps you succeed and be great at what you do. Why do you take the pictures you take? What do you take pictures of? Why do you care about your subject? The issues you cover? When you consider your goals, is it to find answers? So are you curious?

My Photo Editor Mind - I Miss You

Going from the newspaper industry to freelance, one of the things I miss most is the follow-up on projects or stories. I always saw the project to the end and saw how it was published, received, etc. Now I work with photographers, several months often passing before I hear from them again, and I always wonder what happened with a project, a story, a possible publication. Occasionally, I’ll see something posted on social media but not always. So instead of just hoping I will see a note, I’ve recently been asking photographers to let me know the outcomes. Did the project get published? Are they still working on it? Did they sign a book deal? I want to know what happened. I really do care.