For some time, I have been on the fence with the idea if edits in post-production are part of the process or not trusting it. An idealistic me would limit my influence to where I point and to when I press the shutter, but there is an issue in which I don't easily relinquishing control. When images are not strong enough, I tend to compensate in editing to create an artificial atmosphere to steer the viewer towards an end. And even when the image is strong on its own, there's this tendency to want to enhance it. But it's not true, which at times leads to a conflict and an entire reevaluation of my own statement.
There are specific photo genres I have no such issue with if the subject or intent is artistic. Documentary & street-photography have a long-standing reputation for being off-limits. Again, this is an ideal, but one that I admire even if falling short. Worth mentioning is that for family photos, the edits are simple and fast: highlights and straighten/crop only if needed. I've concluded that I don't have such hang-ups when editing personal photos because I trust the audience and it is not subject to judgment. As much as I'd like to think I am immune to the need for validation and the vulnerability of disappointment for unmet expectations, apparently I am not.
Subconsciously this has made me second-guess myself even when out casually shooting. I hesitate more, and feel generally less bold to take shots I would have a few years ago. I can see the difference in the results. It's a ripple-effect that has led to a withdrawal in the arena of sharing my own work. Consciously, I am aware nothing has actually changed but my perception. But there is an entire haunting, behind-the-scenes layer of context you can be subject to: emerging/fading trends, votes/likes, popularity, growth & loss metrics, and of course, reciprocity. These are all forms of validation... and it sucks. The validation layer is real and will make you hesitate.
One of the more disappointing results of this is the effect of giving in to 'stick to what works'. By that I mean, "if they like it, keep doing it". Sure, it's good to finally get the validation you deserve, but when you're number watching, won't deviate from a style and it starts to feel like work, you've lost something. Is it even fun anymore?
There is a quote attributed to Anthony Beeke that says,"having a style is like being in jail."
I could not agree more. #streetphotography #fujifilm #nyc