Learning to listen to the stories my photos tell

I realized recently that, although I’ve been an editor in the photography industry for years, I know very little about editing photos.

Now that I’m taking my photography more seriously, and learning to tell stories with my own images, I’ve discovered (not surprisingly) that editing requires a whole new skill set — one that is very visual and emotional, which can be hard for someone who is as verbal and cerebral as I am.

My boyfriend, Peter, and I talk frequently about creativity (he’s a talented photographer and editor), and now that I have some decent images to work with, we’ve been discussing photo editing.

Because I’ve worked at publications about images themselves, I’ve never needed to use images to help tell a story. Now, since most of my photos are captured moments from my travels, I get to construct my own little narratives with them — or see what stories emerge organically from them.

I’ve gone back and forth between different edits for a month now. This one I’m posting is mostly Peter’s, but we’ve gone through and discussed it image-by-image together.

I’m curious what you think of it. Not whether it’s good, necessarily, but how it makes you feel. What it says to you. What story it tells. Now that I’m learning to see unconscious or unintended connections in my own images, I’m curious what other see there, too.

5 thoughts on “Learning to listen to the stories my photos tell

  1. Hey Miki, some feedback on this and your previous post.Regarding figuring out what to shoot or what you're trying to say, I'd suggest you keep doing exactly what you said: “don't overthink” and just go with your gut reactions. I've been shooting for 5 or 6 years now and it still feels like my unconscious mind aims my camera — like an Ouija board pointer — towards whatever things grab its attention. For now, I found I work best that way, and there's a method to the madness: I love the themes beginning to emerge. You'll either find what you want to pursue over time, or it'll find you.And editing is indeed hard, especially early on. It's easy to not feel you have enough to work with, or which story to tell. It does gets easier as your brain starts finding a rhythm when you shoot and you begin to zone in on themes, whether consciously, or with “unintended or unconscious intentions”, as you wrote.Now onto your edit above. Here's some connections and things I saw:- The first three, eclipsed expressions- The third and fourth, repetition and avoided glances- The two sets of verticals… I really like this quartet… top set, woman's arms are bare like the tree, and her big hearts could be leaves falling onto the lower part of her dress, like the leaves on the sidewalk on the right… bottom set, musical partners… and they all seem to flow… and oh, all four images have an arm up :)- The painting of the woman and the tarmac below… her crying eyes look like they're spilling onto the tarmac… the painting has cars and (air)ships on it, as well, almost like you're looking at her crying in the window at the airport and seeing the tarmac reflected in the window- Many of the final images seem to be the memories of a last night out in a foreign land, you reflecting on it back at the hotel, and then waiting to fly home… also, there's a bit of feeling of people and things caged or boxed in- I also noticed a pattern of hands outstretched with cigarettes, but being in Europe I imagine it's a bit difficult to make a street series without smoking included!Not sure if ANY of those connections were intended in your edit, it's just what came to mind. I'm curious to hear what connections you saw.Have fun and keep shooting!


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  3. hey…i know this is super old but i just wanted to say one thing about diptychs: its like a puzzle. so many photogs are doing diptychs that don't always work. and one thing to keep in mind is the direction in which the subjects are looking and the composition of the image (its like laying out a page…you don't want your eyes to go off the page because the subject is looking out). sometimes it just feels right because those elements work, or it doesn't because the pictures are competing with one another, when it should compliment (in my opinion). love the first one and the self-portrait!! happy shootin!!


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  5. Thanks for sharing this post. I have also noticed that editing is emotional. Perhaps another way to say this is that I connect to my own photos, often in ways that I did not expect. I assume you are saying something similar.As story tellers, many of us complain that our viewers or readers do not really listen to what we say. Often, we do not really listen to what we say to ourselves. Do you have a follow up response after sitting with this for several months. I am willing to read more.bf


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