For as long as Lightroom has been in existence, I’ve used it…. I’ve organised and sorted all my images using this system which has been so efficient for me. I can find anything fairly quickly, because the catalogue system is so good, and also because I understand my own file naming system.
Looking back though at what’s in there (there’s a lot of rubbish by the way), and I do start to wonder why I keep as much as I do.
I think I operated under the wild assumption that I would (one day) go back and revisit all those images, and edit them over again as software developed, and my skills improved.
But here we are – some 20 odd years later and I’m looking at some of the things I kept, that I thought were ‘good’ at that time. I think I can honestly say that most of the images are of no interest to me any more. My style, and ideas have changed, and there’s little that I did then that I like now.
The other week, I had a more radical idea. What if I removed from Lightroom, and indeed from my immediate hard drive everything I’d not looked at in the last twenty years, and started again. Keeping only recent ‘lockdown’ work and textures I’d made.
I couldn’t do it….. but in the end I compromised.
I’m older now, and hopefully a bit wiser. The person who made those images 20+ years ago doesn’t exist any more. I was a beginner with a Sony 3mp camera, with a 1 inch screen on the back.
So, the compromise was that I’ve backed up all those old images to an external drive – they include all my college work, and some family photos that honestly I can’t take again. That drive will be stored away with other hard drives, and hopefully I’ll take a look at it every now and again.
For now though, it’s time to look at what is left…. And I discovered some portraits that I took in 2011. My editing wasn’t that good at the time, so I’ve been able to go back to the original RAW files, taken with a Canon 5D, and work them up again.
I realise now that there’s no way I could have visualised those images, the way I do today. I think that then I was just ‘taking’ photographs, and maybe today I’m ‘making’ them.
As an aside, I was reading a book the other day, and the discussion was about the ‘perfect’ photograph, and the question was ‘what makes a photograph perfect?’ The answers were varied, and here’s a selection of them.
- One that is sharp and in Focus.
- One which gives the viewer a perfect experience, with no question about the content
- One which survives over 100 years and still gives the viewer the same experience
- One which is artistic and impressionistic
- One which adheres to the rule of thirds
- One which tells a story
All of these, or some of these. Maybe you think non of these….
The thing that makes photography so fascinating for me, is that all the above can be ‘perfect’. The photographer can be both objective, and artistic at the same time, and that’s probably why I love it so much.
I reckon I’ll keep looking back at the old stuff for a while longer.