Once you've decided that you want to show a scene how do you decide between all the permutations you end up shooting? Which one gets the nod?

There's a wall just off Congress Avenue, on Fifth Street, that has a long wall and an ever changing mural. It's always interesting but sometimes it's better than others. I was walking by, across the street from the mural yesterday when it caught my eye. I photographed it from the corner (an angled view) and also straight on as in these two examples. I photographed it with and without people. And I photographed it with and without cars. It sounds like a bunch of permutations but I think I shot the whole collection of 13 or 14 variations in the space of 3 or 4 minutes. 

When I'm out shooting around town I always tend to shoot multiple variation of interesting scenes, when time and the situation allows. But I always struggle in the editing because it's hard for me, sometimes, to declare one image to be better than all the rest. Each has something a bit different which catches my eye, otherwise I would not have continued to take photographs. 

Usually the difference has something to do with the composition but in this situation I think the choice between these two images is more down to gesture more than anything else. I'm curious to know how you make a choice when you have half a dozen or a dozen images from the same basic set up, all of which you find interesting for different reasons.

I was using a camera that I haven't paid enough attention to previously; it's the Fuji XE3. I wanted to walk around as unencumbered as possible and I wanted to carry an extra lens and battery in a Jacket pocket. Turns out the XE3 with it's small size and light weight was just what I wanted. I mostly kept the 35mm f2.0 lens on the front; it's very small, light and sharp (even at f2.0) but I carried the 50mm f2.0 in my left jacket pocket leaving room in the right pocket for a vegan lemon and hazelnut scone from Whole Foods. 

I shoot more than I ever end up using and I've learned to divide the take into: keepers, maybes and instant trash. The percentage varies but usually less than 5% of the photos from a two or three hour walk through the city are keepers. Another 5% are maybes and the rest never get ingested into Lightroom or stored anywhere. They just cease to exist the next time I format the memory card. This is a good discipline for me since I seem to be hesitant to pick favorites. 

If I saved every frame I shot I'd have millions of image cluttering up an endless array of hard drives. If I knew which keeper I wanted to distill down to I could save even more space. Some images you just have to live with before you really know if you want them. The rest are pretty obviously crappy. You do yourself a favor when you flush them out of the system....


typingtalker said...

After a quick look at both pictures and before reading your comments I decided I preferred the second one. I'm not one for analyzing these things but in this case, all the characters are moving across the scene in the same direction and that works for me.

LVSD Photography said...

I like the first one. Is the less expected of the two. You expect the confident riders, not the confused learner and indifferent "stander".

Don McConnell said...

Neither image says much to me, but if they were mine, I would crop the first one down to a square just showing the girl in the doorway and the yellow wall. The girl might then be waiting for the imaginary water seller to get back from a break 😉 Puts a bit of humour into it, which is the only reason I would see for taking the picture.

I really like good street art and will sometimes photograph it for my own enjoyment. This is not so exciting but seems fair game for a bit of photographic fun.

Cheers, Don

Anonymous said...

I like the first one for the same reasons LVSD Photo gave. I also would crop out the girl with her back to us as suggested by Don Mc, but that thought didn't ocurr to me until I read his comment.

Mark A. said...

Interesting problem, Kirk. I'd suggest gut feeling. You can rationalize after your gut reaction ;-) Is it hard to first hear your feelings after controlling every aspect of your pictures for so many years? (I cannot imagine how my thinking vs. feeling of photos would change after earning money with it for so long.)
My gut feeling: First picture "not interesting", the reason for that was "indifference". (I thought about the reason after it felt not interesting, but before I read the word "indifferent" in the comment!)
Second picture "what's the story?" and it got my mind wandering. Reason was, I think, the direction and the repetition, of course. And the older guy is ahead of the to scooters, and he seems more dynamic, like the vibrant colours of the wall, even though he is almost monochrome. (Please blame my lacking language skills, if this all sounds like nonsense ;-))
Another question back to you: What should happen in front of that wall that would make a great picture without bding too obvious sensational?

George said...

I'd go with the first one cropped. Definitely leave both women in the composition but I would try a vertical and a horizontal crop to see which one I like better. (Probably vertical cropped at the top of the door. The wall art adds little to the image. The woman in the doorway is the clear subject of the image and the other woman adds to the story.