First Impressions

First impressions.  Instinct.  Your gut.  It’s what they say we should always pay attention to, because somehow we’re wired to feel things happening before we actually understand what they are.

When it comes to people, it seems like first impressions can be a kind of arbitrary judgment we levy for no other reason than to protect some vulnerability we see in ourselves.  Sometimes it turns out we’re justified.  Other times, we end up losing potential connections to our own deep-rooted insecurities.

When it comes to photography, I have a dilemma.  My average usage when I go on a shoot is about 1/5 to 1/3 of the frames I take.  That is to say for every 100 images I shoot, I usually decide only 20-35 are worthy of showing.  This is solely due to the way I review the images once I’m home and see them on the big screen.  I rely on the first impression and impact of the raw unprocessed image.  When I feel that, I mark the photo for further processing and move on.  I think it works pretty good.  And it definitely helps with efficiency when I’m reviewing 500-1000+ images.

But I wonder how susceptible my first impressions are to influences that have no bearing on the actual moment I’m in.  With photography, the first impression is really the original capture of the image; my deciding to show it is a reflection of that moment.  Did I capture it the way I visualized it?  I guess that’s the important part, the visualization.  But I already talked about this here.

I’m realizing, though, my first impression, “the moment it clicks” as Joe McNally has coined it, is necessarily an important element of the equation because it results in the captured image itself.  But it’s not the most important element.  Upon closer inspection of nearly all my shoots, I end up finding images I originally overlooked or thought for some reason or another weren’t worthy of sharing.  The photo above of the Reid Glacier in Glacier Bay, AK is a recent example.  (Of course, to be real, photographers usually only want to show their best work, and self-editing can be a difficult exercise for any artist.)

In any case, what I’m trying to say is that our first impression shouldn’t be our last.  Maybe you know this already.  Sometimes it’s good to reflect on things so that you allow yourself to open up to them in ways you found impossible, for one reason or another, in the first place.  I think there’s an element of surprise waiting for us all if we give things, and people, a second chance every once in awhile.


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