The 1%

This is a post I've been trying to figure out how to write for some time now. A while back I was going through my back catalog for things to post to Instagram and there was something I noticed. My Flickr account has over five years of my photo history so there was certainly enough data there to pick out a pattern. I saw that over time I was actually posting less and less pictures per event. A lot of that has to do with being a lot more critical about the images I'm sharing. And the differences were pretty stark year over year. Here's two great examples that illustrate this pattern pretty well: San Japan and Classic Game Fest.

San Japan 7: 206 pictures, four acts
San Japan 8: 134 pictures, nine acts
San Japan 9: 45 pictures, six acts
San Japan 10: 32 pictures, three acts

Classic Game Fest 2014: 229 pictures, nine acts
Classic Game Fest 2015: 101 pictures, nine acts
Classic Game Fest 2016: 30 pictures, ten acts
Classic Game Fest 2017: 55 pictures, eighteen acts

My shooting rate really hasn't changed much over those four years. So if we take these numbers I'm effectively sharing 1% of what I actually shoot. But the most important thing to consider is that I'm sharing the absolute best shots. For one I try to avoid posting similar looking images. There's been times where I'd bounce back and forth between two images trying to figure out which one would work better for editing, composition, etc. I also try to aim for photos that show off someone in the best possible light. Beyond that (and this is more for event/concert coverage) I go for pics that highlight the experience.

That kind of mindset is an interesting thing to have when reviewing old albums. I look through them and think to myself "Wow, why in the hell did I post all of these?" I had thought a few times to possibly edit them but I felt it's could be a great way to show my progression as an artist.

But what put the idea in my head for this post was that some time ago I went through some albums of people who do similar work and have produced some amazing shots. When I went through their albums I saw some of the same things I did with regards to sharing more pictures than really needed. The difference was they were continually doing it over many years.

The question that kept coming to mind: why?

Part of the point for having this blog page is to share my learning experiences in hopes that maybe other people could maybe take something from them and help them grow as well. The actual photo editing process is easy to talk to. But there was some other factor I knew was important that I was having a really hard time trying to quantify.

What changed about how I view my work and therefore how did it change my editing and sharing practices?

A few days ago I was watching some videos from photographer Joe Edelman (I highly recommend browsing through his channel... lots of great stuff there). There was one video I watched about social media for photographers that had this:

Remember when you have the urge to post those twenty images from one shoot... it's because you had fun, and you are excited about the experience. Nobody else will have the same experience as you had. Not even your subject. The goal of the photograph on social media is to draw attention. To make people pause and hopefully get a "Wow!" response.

He nailed the bit I had been trying to figure out for a while.

When I'm going through my images the main thought in my head is always "Does this make for an amazing photo?" So somehow over the years I've disconnected my personal view of the experience at least when it comes to editing. I don't think there was a particular "light switch moment" where this happened. It just came about because I was being more critical about my work. But with those two things I do think I'm presenting myself at my best.

I know for some it will take a while to really get this. I totally get that when you shoot 2,000 or more photos there will be this compulsion to share more since you shot so much.

But don't give in to it. When you from 2,000 pictures to 20 or even less you will wonder why you shot so many and it is a bit of a weird thing to think about at first. It will go away... especially when you realize that those few shots are some the best work you've ever done.

And when you do that... that's when people will take notice.

 

Rob Swackhamer

November 20, 2017.