Editing in Contemplative Photography: Why Now is the Perfect Time to Clean Out Your Image Library
Images are like the children, the offspring of our experience of seeing. Reconnecting with them in Editing is like recognizing ourselves in our progeny. So no wonder it seems like too much to ask of ourselves to discriminate against what we have produced. We are being judgmental, not allowing the one’s that do not shine with the energy of life to grow into more than they appear to be now. We worry that we will eliminate a worthy contender and it will be lost to us forever. We defend the right that all images have to be allowed to exist in their imperfect perfection and we protest that they are good enough as they are.
Does this emotional clinging seem a bit off the main point to you? Are we talking about our children or our photographic images?? It’s hard to tell sometimes. Maybe the reason you hold onto your images is clearer. You are simply not sure if it is a fresh perception or not. But you would not believe how often this emotional plea for acceptance comes from the mouths of practitioners of contemplative photography, in one form or another. It is the application of psychological training doublethink and the desire to advocate for all images, all the underdog images of the world to be heard and accepted.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not into the being the ultimate arbiter of all perceptions fresh and unfresh. But at some point, fresh is not a negotiation. And that point is right when the flash of perception dawns in our minds. It is not negotiable. That is where clarity of perception comes in. And then there is the experience of resting in a mind of stillness with our perception. Likewise, we don’t negotiate with various thoughts that arise about how the perception can be improved upon. This is how we have clarity of understanding. We don’t negotiate or advocate. Both of these activities are secondary to, outside of, resting in stillness with our perception.
And finally, we don’t negotiate with our expression of our experience of perception. That means both the way we take the image with our camera and that includes editing.
Why is editing so painful? This is the wonderful thing about this practice. It’s all right there staring us in the face. Why can’t we say ‘no!’ to second best, to a partial, half ass expression of our penetrating, vivid experience? Why can’t we rejoice in something done just so? Why can’t we go all the way, throw ourselves in 100% to this one thing? Just this one thing? We know when the juice isn’t there in the image. And no amount of wanting it to be there will change that.
It’s time to be clear. Clean up the debris of past almost direct perceptions. When we clear away the dead limbs, the scraggly little offshoots that didn’t grow, the dead leaves attached to fallen limbs lying on the ground in our yard, the lovely shape of the strong, vital trees can emerge and shine in their own right. I am always surprised to see the increased presence and contours of the strong, vital trees every spring when we do our outside cleanup.
Do this for yourself. Do the needed pruning. Just buck up, sharpen the blade of clear discrimination, and prepare to cut. Clear the decks. Prepare for a new year, and new wonders. Don’t be attached to your garbage. Who wants garbage in their house, old remnants of previous half experienced perceptions? When you do this, your best images will shine through. You will feel many pounds lighter. And you won’t repeat your mistakes since you have seen them countless times in your library as you edit, and really you don’t want to go through this backlog of images ever again. You will move on better and stronger as a seer. And you will feel more confident in your ability to recognize when it is real, and when it is just your idea.
I just went through this last month— 6000 images down the drain. Yeah! I’m moving on.