You edit your photos THIS much!?

 Spoon has been my favorite band these past few years. 

They are edgy, weird, cool as hell and Britt's voice always gets me. Their lyrics are always somewhat dark, their beats awesome but "slightly off" in a very intriguing and unique way. Their videos are almost always very cool and unusual. 

This... is very much a Spoon video in all its glory. 

Phew. It's a lot to take in. 

What did ya think? It made me think about how much we expect perfection and how far we're willing to go to make a reality prettier than the truth. 

This video gets me to the subject of how much (little?) I edit my photos. 

... yeah liked that segue? I know it's not my best but it's what we're working with today. 

It's actually an important subject I don't talk much about because documentary photography carries a certain added implicit meaning of authenticity, of honesty, of ...dare I say it... truth. But I find it's often overused and misused. I don't pretend to know THE truth but I do know that being truthful and honest in my photography is an essential part of what I do and how I work. That's why my heroes are almost all real photojournalists or street photographers. 

So much of my experience as a photographer is connected to my need to connect to others in order to feel my most human self. When I started to travel and live in other countries for substantial amounts of time I realized that if I wanted to soak it all in, if I wanted to learn from cultures foreign to my own and especially if I was going to learn the local language and lingo, I was going to have to open myself up completely. I would have to be vulnerable, genuine, interested and willing to get hurt 100% of the time. If you've met me, you know I don't edit myself in my personal life and I don't expect perfection. My wife will readily tell you; I'm a veeeery flawed guy. ;)

That's why -for me- there's no other approach to photography possible. If I am to connect to the people I photograph, learn from them and record their lives truthfully and honestly, I need to be an open shutter soaking in all that light, all the humanity of the moments I record. 

Which is why I edit my photos to serve the story I am recording. 

Here's a quick example: I took this photo at the last wedding I shot. Obviously, the story is about those two girls wearing reflective aviator glasses and they are much more interesting than the person on the right of the image.

 

Before editing:

 Yoga girl walking

Yoga girl walking

After editing: 

 Are you going to Yoga today? LIES

Are you going to Yoga today? LIES

 

I mean... no offense to the rest of the photo (none taken since I took the photo) but the story is clearly the girl walking down the street... literally. I am obviously kidding here but it's obvious where the narrative is but I had to find it and it took me some time to figure out what I wanted to say with the photo. 

I love photos that have soupçon of a sense of humor in it but that still tell me a compelling story. So, after cropping and editing correctly the photo has a lot more drama and humor than before with just a few simple steps.

In the end, photos are meant to mean something to the viewer. Good photos need to carry context as well as content. Every time I look at old photos I am immediately transported back to the moment in time the photo captured. It's inimitable, unique, personal and very very human.

it's compelling and It's beautiful.