Monday, March 2, 2020

Am I My Own Best Editor?

Rock City Barn in Grassy Cove
TN Hwy. 68 in Cumberland County, Tennessee
Mamiya RB67, 127mm f4.5 Mamiya-Sekor lens, Fujichrome 100 film

Not necessarily. I would like to think I am, but the truth is that I can't always pick out my very best shots. Let's face it: sometimes we're not the best judges of our own work. Here's a true story:

By 1992 I had been doing regular advertising assignments for Rock City Gardens, (now See Rock City, Inc.) a tourist attraction on Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, Tennessee, for about ten years. In effect, I was their unofficial house photographer. In late October of that year I was asked by Rock City's advertising department to go to Grassy Cove on Cumberland Mountain between Rockwood and Crossville, Tennessee to photograph a picturesque old barn with one of their iconic "See Rock City" signs.

It was a gray, overcast day, but I did the best I could; photographing the barn and the sheep grazing around it from several angles with my Mamiya RB67 medium format camera (a big bruiser!) and Fujichrome 100 film. As always, I bracketed exposures a half-stop over and under. (For my younger readers, that's like setting your digital camera to auto-bracket mode when you want the best possible exposure. But in those days it was all done manually -- the aperture or shutter speed had to be physically changed for each exposure.)

After processing and reviewing the film, I was not happy with the photos. So a few days later on a sunny day I went back at my own expense (about a 160 mile round trip) and photographed the barn again. But just in case, when I turned in my photos to Todd Smith, Rock City's advertising manager, I gave him both the overcast day photos and the sunny day shots.

To my surprise, Todd immediately picked the photo above. And when I was later commissioned to photograph and write Rock City Barns: A Passing Era, that was the photo my book designer chose for the cover. I would have missed it completely.

So it's a good idea to get input about your photos from someone whose vision you trust. You might find that some of your photographs are not as great as you think they are, but on the other hand, you might well find some hidden gems.

No comments:

Post a Comment