I shot the above portrait of model/photographer Helena Martin in 2014. At the time, I was so proud of the mood that I had created with my lighting and post processing that I included the scenario in my book, Studio Anywhere. When I look at that shoot today however, all I see are information-less shadow areas and matte blacks, and I cringe.
My point is that our tastes evolve as we get older. Our eyes develop as we rack up years of field experience. We notice things that we would’ve overlooked in years past. This is precisely why I love to revisit older shoots to not only look for frames that I might’ve missed on the initial edit, but to also update my color grading.
Below is a new edit I made on the file. My approach this time was to raise the shadow area of the tone curve, giving the image a solarized look. This new color grade brought out all kinds of textures in her dress and on the background that were totally lost in the original edit. And while I am kind of in love with this new edit, I might return to it in another five years and give it a totally different grading.
I find the act of revisiting my archives to be quite encouraging. I get the chance to see how far I’ve come. As I peruse a hard drive, I am reminded of jobs I wish I could forget forever. I am also reminded of the people who took chances on me, letting me work with them while I was still green. It’s an opportunity for me to cultivate perspective and gratitude for where I am today. In a world built on immediacy, any amount of reflection we can do is good for the soul.