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In our tech obsessed world it’s impossible to escape the “new.” There is always some new gadget or device that causes wide-eyed gawking, or the same gadget that now has new features — same effect. Everything is obsolete before most people can even figure out how to use all the available features. But we still want the latest. Whatever it is. We get the new something and almost immediately forget about the old something.
Do you treat your photos the same way?
Of course, photographers are expected to be always shooting, always creating new images; that’s just kind of how it works. You can’t call yourself a photographer if you’ve only ever picked up a camera one day in your life. Every photographer, regardless of skill level, has a desire — a passion, an overriding personal imperative, even — to constantly capture new imagery.
This drive, however, doesn’t render one’s previous work meaningless. In fact, revisiting your older work can be profoundly rewarding.
Here are a few reason you will want to take some time to dig through the gigabytes (terabytes, perhaps) of photos buried on your hard drives.
You’ve Upgraded Your Image Editing Software
Most people don’t begin their journey in photography with the best of anything; we begin with hand-me-downs or starter kits — cameras, lenses, and even post-processing software. With so many choices of free image editing applications available, it only makes sense that novice digital photographers go this route, if just to learn the basics of post-processing. Eventually, however, you’ll likely want to upgrade to a higher end application that can do things your entry level software couldn’t do. So, of course, you will want to grab those old shots and run them through Lightroom or Photoshop and see what kinds of improvements can be made.
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You’ve Learned Some New Tricks Along the Way
It doesn’t matter if you’re using an obscure free application or an expensive, industry standard application, the more time you spend with image editing software, the more you are going to learn. Looking back at your old shots, you can probably see how much better an understanding you now have of how to edit your images. So why not apply that knowledge, those new and improved techniques to photos that perhaps didn’t receive the same level of care?
You Will Have New Content to Share
What’s old to you is new to everyone else; and even if it is an image others have seen before, they will probably enjoy seeing it again in its “new” form. It’s always fun to create a new take on an old photo. This is an especially useful option when you hit a rut and can’t seem to find the inspiration to pick up your camera.
You Can Gain Perspective on Your Own Work
Art is mean to be shared. When we experience the work of others, we make comparisons with our own work which, in turn, informs how we proceed and ultimately progress as photographers. Looking over images you’ve created in the past can have a similar impact. You’re sure to encounter shots that affect you differently now than they did when you first made them; this is an opportunity to gain new insight and develop a greater appreciation of your growth as an artist.
You Get the Opportunity to Use Rejected Images
This applies mainly to a situation when you may have been shooting a specific theme and some shots didn’t fit in, or when you submitted work to a project editor who simply had to “trim the fat.” Rejected images don’t always mean bad images; there are various other reasons why some photos may not make the final cut. Odds are, you’ve forgotten about them; now’s your chance to use them.
You Need to Cure a Case of Nostalgia
It’s easy to become singularly focused on photography as an artistic endeavor, to get wrapped up in the challenge of creating. But what about all the shots you’ve taken simply to record a memory of a person or a place or a thing? Sometimes it’s nice to have a look at such images for no other reason than old times’ sake. It’s important to not forget the past.
Revisiting old photographs can be fun, inspiring, enlightening, encouraging. I’m sure you will come across plenty of forgotten gems — or maybe shots that weren’t quite gems but had potential — to re-edit and (re)introduce to your audience.
Some people will look at this and think, “Converting an old photo to black and white? Big deal, what’s the point?” Well, you can do much more than a black and white conversion; the point is that putting a new spin on old photos is just one of many ways to enjoy photography. Give it a try.