I don’t know how many other people do this, but I keep a folder on my desktop called “In Progress” and it contains every picture that I’m currently working on. In truth, it mostly contains all of the pictures I should work on but am not working on. And beyond that, it mostly mostly contains pictures that I’m downright stuck on. There are about 30 pictures in there from this year alone that I have taken and have left sitting. My standards of what makes a photograph great are changing. I am changing too fast for my shutter clicks to keep up with, and this is a wonderful thing. Lately I have been craving more detail in my photographs. More elaborate landscapes, more detailed subjects, a more dynamic range of visual interest splattered across the picture.
Within my “In Progress” folder I held a picture that I went back to and worked on about every week that it was in there. It was inspired by the work of Maggie Taylor. I had it for months just sitting by, waiting for the right moment. I had no idea when that moment would be, or even what that moment was! I just knew that something wasn’t right yet and that it would eventually be.
So I waited. I didn’t push it. I studied the photograph, I thought about it for hours, and I waited.
Yesterday I felt newly inspired by it. I thought about all the work that had gone into it: scanning 50 different leaves into my computer, cutting them out, duplicating them and changing each one slightly to create hundreds and hundreds of leaves…and then making a dress out of them. I had already put those hours into it, and I didn’t want to get nothing out of it. There was also the matter of loving the location as well: my hometown of Lancaster, PA. I was so excited by so many elements in the image that I wanted to share, but it wasn’t right yet.
When I picked it up again yesterday, I did so after importing a batch of newly shot cloud pictures from my trip to Dallas, TX. One in particular caught my attention, an amazing stormy sky with rays of light beaming down over the horizon. Suddenly it clicked. What this picture needed was more. I put that sky into the picture, overlayed it on the sky that was already there. I began blending, enhancing, and suddenly I realized that was it…the picture was in need of more “umph!”. The picture needed that dynamic and detailed sky to bring it all together. I had thought that because the leaves were so intricate and there were buildings in the background that a simple sky would work best. However, someone I worked with on a shoot last week said some wise words…
“Less isn’t more, more is more.”
Now this isn’t always true, but sometimes it very well is. Sometimes, if you’re going to go for it, just GO FOR IT. Finally, after taking that advice very literally, I came out with a picture I was proud of. It took me many months to get to that place with it. It took me about 30 different re-edits of the picture. But finally, I had identified the problem. I knew I wanted more detail in my pictures, more dynamic and detailed scenes, and this picture allowed me to experiment with those new impulses.