Browsing through your old photos has a lot more value than just a fun trip down memory lane. It can actually help you uncover who you are as a photographer. Let me explain.
Lately I’ve been combing through our archives. We have so many photos, from so many trips, that we haven’t properly sorted or displayed. Part of me is filled with regret for not having done something with the photos.
But part of me is deeply enjoying this process of rediscovering my earlier work. I’ve learned a lot about photography since I actually created these photos, and that makes the experience quite interesting. Photos that I once ignored now stand out to me. Like the one above, taken in India in 2008.
I know that this isn’t a bold image. It would probably go unnoticed by many. It’s quiet, and that’s why I like it. It may seem simple at first glance, but the more you look at the details, the more it reveals a rich scene.
Two boys –brothers? – carrying water home. A larger vessel for the older boy. The younger has a smaller. Their postures are relaxed; they walk close to each other. They wear similar shirts, and the younger boy is in pants that are too big for him – probably handed down to him from older siblings. The desert sun is hot on their faces as their feet kick up sand. Crumbling walls make up the background, and I wonder how far they still have to walk. For me the scene feels both completely foreign (I’m privileged to live with running water) and yet, at the same time, normal. I imagine that these two perform this task regularly together. Just a regular day for two boys living in Rajasthan.
I am starting to believe that one of the great things about photography is that it helps you to discover yourself – the things that matter to you, and your unique take on the world. And sorting through your photos can be an enlightening part of that process.
One of the great things about photography is that it helps you to discover yourself – the things that matter to you, and your unique take on the world.
For instance, with this image, it jumped out at me as I scrolled through. I connected with it. But I was conflicted. Part of me thought: “That’s not a good enough photo. Not many people will like it. They’ll think it’s boring.”
But then I replied, to myself, “That’s ok. I like it.”
And it’s that simple answer that brings me a small step closer to understanding my personal path as a photographer. I like to find the beauty in quiet moments of everyday life. And the fact that I chose this image reminds me of that.
So trust your instincts when you sort through your images. If something stands out to you, pay attention to it. Try to figure out why it caught your eye. Was it the composition? The content? Don’t worry about whether it follows any rules. Don’t think about how many “likes” it might get. The more you can listen to your own preferences, the more your unique perspective as a photographer can come out in your work.
Easier said than done, of course, but I’m working on it :)