Second Looks

I think it happens to all photographers: you take a photo that you’re not quite pleased with in the first edit, and it gets culled. But when you see it again later you change your mind. It’s grown on you. You see something new in it, a detail, action, emotion that you hadn’t noticed before. Maybe your eye has matured since that first edit, or maybe your emotional state has shifted enough to give that photo a second look. Whatever the circumstance, you’ve found a gem that hadn’t been evident to you the first time around. Quite often, these are happy accidents; that shot you had in your mind’s eye didn’t pan out during editing, yet that second photo you took without planning turned out great. Instinct over intellect. Serendipity over planning.

A seamstress folds cloth, Hampi, India.

This image of a seamstress folding fabric in Hampi, India, took many second looks. I distinctly remember taking the photo, quickly ducking into position, firing off a few frames, and “stealing” the shot from AKB, who had been right next to me. It felt like a keeper at that moment. Yet, when editing, I had doubts. I loved the colors, and was happy with the composition, but something about it didn’t stick with me. It felt too simple, with too little mystery to it. At the time I was probably trying to make it fit into a narrative it didn’t belong in, maybe because I had skipped ahead in the edit chronologically to work on it. Whatever the reason, I over-thought it, tried to make it more complex than it needed to be. Now, months later, I have grown to really love the photo, and it glows on our kitchen wall at home. What at first I dismissed as simple, square, straight-on composition actually frames the serenity of the moment well. Quite the contrast to the off-camera chaos of the surroundings.

Here’s hoping to more second looks at hidden gems in the future.

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