Looking back

Passing Through

Passing Through



Something essential for any artist is making time to look back at your work.


The end of each year is a good time to examine what you’ve done. It helps you see what you’ve accomplished and where you need to focus in the year ahead to grow as an artist.


But every few years or so a deep look is called for. One that goes back at least five years and maybe more.


I recently had occasion to look for black and white images to see the chronology and evolution of my approach to grayscale image processing. I turned to my Lightroom category for black and white images, but noticed that some images I expected to find just weren’t there. That made me go back through my entire output to restore the missing images to that section of the catalog.


Downtown Tucson in fog

Downtown Tucson in fog

Adobe Lightroom has made looking back an easy thing. As you input your photography collection, a catalog is being generated that can present your work in a variety of different ways. Beyond the categories the user creates, the Lightroom catalog’s chronological listing feature is a godsend.


Through it you can scroll through tens of thousands of photos in the exact sequence they were shot and see the experiences and technical details that shaped your technique as they came into being, and as they matured with time.


You see how the equipment you have purchased spikes the creative process, and how sometimes you have to return to a particular artistic problem to finally get it right. Or at least get closer.


You see as well places you have returned to over and over, getting the sense of seasons and year-to-year fluctuations. In my mariachi work, I see young faces growing older, more experienced and confident as the young musicians and dancers progress down their own paths. Sometimes you even see moments in history you saw as no more than that turn into a clear evolutionary thread.




Along the way, you also find the places your heart has taken you along paths of joy and sorrow, tragedy and elation.  You see the human experience unfold as your camera saw it. Sometimes you even see something you didn’t know how to process at the time but now have the skill to bring that image to life. That’s one of the pay offs.


Similarly ordered lists help me do short and long-term reviews of my film work, music composition, writing and other expressions of my work.


If you’re a photographer and you’re having doubts because the work has grown economically difficult, or you just have doubts of what you’re doing, go back this way and look at your work. See it for what it is. See how you’ve grown, and see what your work means to others. Do that and you’ll pull your head out of despair and be pumped about getting out and shooting some more.

~ by Daniel Buckley on June 19, 2018.

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