Robert Redfield's Blog

Edit Please

The journey of a photograph from the camera to your eyeballs is a twisty and perilous one. 

Every image is born with a click with high hopes of being loved. But most don't make it. This Darwinian fact of life is especially harsh when I must be the one (not the client) to choose a single image of a scene or a project or a person. Sometimes, the choice is easy and if there's time, I can bounce the candidates off my trusted won't-pull-punches advisors and they'll usually agree in blind taste tests.

But the edit becomes excruciating when I've pushed and pulled and sliced and diced and yet can't decide. And my advisors are split down the middle like Congress. Time is running out. Two images, both deserving. Both with something to say. How do choose!?!

This happened recently for a portrait of Nils Frahm, a gifted musician and composer. I photographed him after his sound check before his performance at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. Check out his music, it's gorgeous and moving. 

 Nils Frahm, killing time as I set up my lights for the portrait, before his performance at the  El Rey Theatre  in Los Angeles. 

Nils Frahm, killing time as I set up my lights for the portrait, before his performance at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles. 

 The "planned" image in my mind's eye ... almost.

The "planned" image in my mind's eye ... almost.

I couldn't decide. I liked #1's tinge of edge, his nonchalance for the camera. The blurred car and glow of the fire. But his face is half-hidden and one of my advisors didn't like the cigarette one bit. I liked #2 for the full view of his face and tone of light from simulated car headlights. I wasn't crazy about his right hand and the stopped cars and I wanted more from his expression. But some of my advisors liked this image more. Ugh!

I did what I often do if I have time. I walked away from the screen and busied myself with washing the dishes to complete forget the images for a few minutes. And when I returned, I did what one must do ... I went with my gut.