Anchors Away!


A couple weeks ago I attended a weekend workshop with Lenswork editor Brooks Jensen in which he talked about friends and colleagues who have tens of thousands of archived photos, and are adding thousands more each year. One example was of a single photographer who had almost 2000 supposedly good photos from a single project from which he was trying, unsuccessfully, to edit down to a few dozen. I was dumbfounded by it all. Sure, digital photography advances allow us to capture hundreds of images a day, at no more of a cost than shooting one, but does that make it right? Not to me.

I may have discussed this before (and if so, I apologize), but I am quite frugal when it comes to making new images and, with the images I do make, I regularly edit on site, in camera. I bring home so few images, in fact, and then brutally edit again, that I have averaged only about 300 archived images each year for the past five or six years. Why so few? Because of the combination of the aforementioned frugality and brutal editing, for which I make no apologies. I am quite happy, thank you. Do I end up trashing images that, in the future, I may find worthy? No doubt. But as I have no intention of putting the camera down anytime soon, I will find others. For me, it’s about looking forward, not back.

I know many other photographers who save EVERYTHING….just in case. Sure, they edit out the obvious bad exposures, camera shakes or focus problems, but everything else is kept. Thus, their archives are enormous and heavy, and that is the exact reason I do what I do, in the way that I do it. You see, I find such massive archives of mediocre and rejected images to be a hindrance and a distraction, and an anchor which slows down future creativity….at least for me.

I switched from large format to digital photography because I wanted to be lighter and work faster. I did not switch so I could make more images. Sure, making more images increases the odds of getting lucky, but I am not a photographer to get lucky, I am a photographer because it is how I choose to artistically express myself. I would rather fail on my own accord than rely on luck for my success.

I get a lot of grief for how I work. I am sure I’ll get it now. But, I am fairly confident I am not alone and more than willing to put my feet the Internet flame for the sake of transparency. So if you are feeling overwhelmed by an increasingly massive photo archive, you might want to try being a bit more brutally honest with image editing and toss that anchor away.


I joined the mile-high club today, and I was alone when it happened.  I will admit, as a newcomer to this sort of thing, I was a bit worried about any adverse effects and how my friends and colleagues would react. Would I be ostracized or criticized? Would people look at me the same way again? Would anyone try and stop me in mid-(key)stroke? In the end, however, I threw caution to the wind, stripped away my constricting worries and just went wild. Yee-Haw!


That’s right…I joined the Adobe Cloud. (oh, gimme a break, clouds can be a mile high, and you all know it)

I was hesitant to forgo the perpetual licensing business model which I (we) had known and trusted for years but, facing a necessary Design Suite upgrade ($$$) and an interest to learn Lightroom (did I really just admit to that?), I felt this was the most reasonable course of action. The process was relatively simple, although a bit time-consuming with the requisite downloads. Still, it was an easy and straightforward and almost exactly like the old days (except for the monthly payment I owe Adobe). While I do hate the idea of being forced to pay monthly rent to access my images, I know that Photoshop is one of the most pirated applications in the world, and it is those idiots who have forced this upon the rest of us. Still…….

A few things surprised me, though. First was that it’s a locked, annual contract with a penalty quitting before the end date. That might have been common knowledge, but was a shock to me. I can understand cell phone companies resorting to such tactics as they subsidize the costs of our phones, but enrolling and leaving early cost Adobe practically zero. A real bullshit move, if you ask me. Still, as I don’t plan to quit photography anytime soon, it was of no issue to me.

The second, and biggest, thing that surprised me was the sheer number of heretofore unheard of (to me, anyway) Adobe applications included in the cloud membership.  Now, I’ve worked with Photoshop since v2.5 in the early 90’s and thought I had a pretty good handle on the offerings from Adobe.  But these were completely new to me:  Muse, Scout, Behance, Business Catalyst, Edge Code, Edge Inspect, Edge Reflow, Ideas, Kuler, Prelude, ProSite, InCopy, Story Plus and Speedgrade. I mean, all I wanted was the prints and web standards of Photoshop, Bridge, Dreamweaver, InDesign, Illustrator and, maybe, Lightroom. I am blown away by all of these extras…which I have full access to, but will likely never, ever need.

Still, for what I do need, and will use, it’s not at all a bad deal. And that is what I am going to keep telling myself…It’s not a bad deal…It’s not a bad deal…It’s not a bad deal…

p.s. As for the title, it’s Latin for “Head in the Clouds.” Brooks Jensen said that, when stuck for a title, you cannot beat Latin. I think he is onto something.