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Editing Exercise

Lesson 18 from: Create Powerful Photo Essays & Personal Projects

David H Wells

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Lesson Info

18. Editing Exercise

Lesson Info

Editing Exercise

So what I'm going to do and you all can see on the screen what I'm going to be doing here. I'm going to talk about this for a few minutes in connection with the next segment, which is grants and funding your personal project photo essay and the question in the last segment was in terms of playing for grants, the work question and so first we're trying and we're actually midway through three days were just about to go past the okay, you have some understanding of the work it is that you want to do, how do you want to do? And then we're gonna move on to grants and getting other people ideally support it. But this is like the last run at the decision making process of how do you make the photographs what's, the the photographic process that you're going to go through to make the photographs to tell the story that you want ideally get the grant for so this is a little movie I made it's a time lapse animation of basically what you three just did it's actually just one person's in front of m...

y olivia she's, also a photographer, and I actually have asked many, many people about thirty people or classes, depending to do this exact thing of put him out on some kind of table pick out a top fifteen I always set up the the exercise of the balance between the art and the information and somebody just to keep it on message and you all came in fourteen minutes I heard you're one minute early to go through and pick out a top fifteen and this is a great exercise that you should think about doing at some point time when your project kind of starts moving and taking on legs of its own you want to start sharing it with other people but you'll notice here when the living gets to the top fifteen she's going to turn them over and she's going to write her initials on the back and this is something you want to do with all of your projects your crowd sourcing you're editing is this in essence what you do and it's a way of getting past what jim would describe with the photos that he loves into the ones that actually work for a large outside audience so I'm going to sit down now and put that up there and I'm looking at the photos here and I believe you're looking at the back so he's the top fifteen that you all picked all right and then I have a secondary stack over here of ones that people in the past who have gone to a similar exercise picked in large numbers and you can see like right on the back not so much with the individual group is but a large number of people picked that actual picture okay, and that is for example that was one of the things to do is understand the subjectivity of this exact thing the tug of war between the two of you the three of you all that if this idea of the personal taste his own we talked about the editing before and so there's not a right or wrong at it but this is one of those images for example that made it in the top fifteen many other times if this was in your top fifteen and you sort of lost in the voting, you might want to say, well, you know, I got a point there, so first let me show you among the ones that you selected is that one which actually hasn't been selected very much it's not a right or wrong. Okay, actually, one of the first time you ever pick that one okay doesn't mean again that you're doing anything later wrong, but it hasn't resonated for people in the fast this one which you saw before has resonated with pretty much every yes that I've done this to um similarly, this one resonated with every audience it's that one there and so the ones where you see that it clearly in some cases like this is a pretty old photo on the project, but it also has obviously worked for a lot of people um let's find a slightly newer one this is a pretty new one, but on the other hand, the few times that I've done it already resonated with people way talk to this one at great length before and so now it is to verify yeah, we're all we're all smart on that one um this one and the notes on the back tell me the particular people who did it or which workshop it was, which is a value to me, but for me, the most important thing is simply that I don't know fifteen different sets of people or individuals that photograph was the top fifteen for them and so this thing of making a stack of prince dragging it literally around the world because I've done this in other countries and keeping track of it is really you really useful thing for your own future growth development that one did very well this is a really new one it's on ly maybe two years in the project but from the get go it took off right away. Um this is a newer one which has done recently well, I actually did this exact same exercise with the photography crew at ari I write down the road actually last year and this made it their top fifteen um this one only got one vote uh this one a few and then this one which I was talking about from the very beginning, because it's one of the very first photos I made in the project, then this one did pretty well. Which is the irony because these two, if you remember, are the same situation, and they tell a similar story, but different ways in terms of more people tended to go for this story. Um, it's a pretty new one, which to date only got about that far. And what everybody wants to know is okay. So what didn't make it in? Right, that's these over here. So I'll show you another fifteen or so that, um, did not make it in that were in the top twenty that's one exactly and again the same thing. There's no whiter wrong here. But if this was in your top five and you were battling for the end, that was in your top five, you're battling forward at the end, you might have one. This one here, uh uh. This is pretty early on in the project, and that one did pretty well, which is the family snapshots. This is that light painting of this kitchen in california and that one as well, and I chose one hundred somewhat arbitrarily, most because it fit into the envelope, but the idea behind this is to when you start getting really really close, you want to do this with a lot of people first you start with your peers at school, for example, but then other photographers you can send it to photographers, you know, other places a lot of times and I'll talk about this later in the week about how I do what I call instant editing where to send them by pdf and you get this feedback and the idea behind all those numbers is no one person is right, but when you get nine or ten people it's probably a strong picture I always loved that one, but I think I might be attached to the sort of double on tanya about for sale and foreclosures though I'm not the only one though, and I am doing everything that I tell you not to do I'm actually saying I love that photo, but again when it comes to picking out the top twenty to send off to somebody for something, this is what I use I'm completely comfortable crowd sourcing my editing it drives my wife nuts she doesn't she's she's a fine art photographer I showed your work before she believes that what works for her best is to make her own decisions and that works for her, but I'm actually comfortable going to this exact process when you see a couple more here right is also in california think we're found to the end of that yeah and then this one which I showed you from louisiana so to me it started out actually originally howie used to edit commercial jobs and stuff like that when I get to sort of the top fifty and I'd want to make sure the best ones would go out to the client I'd show them two three or four friends and I noticed that the only way I could remember is to write on the back and now it's become a virtual part of my day to day operations so I hope that was a some value for you were they questions on the interweb in terms of that process yet in terms of all that people try men and say they were scores agreed they were completely disagreeing we sure dio s o let me read a couple of these david from firefly universe I really like thinking about my final fifteen as a total story that forced me not on ly to choose images that I liked artistically or emotionally but that as a group told a complete and compelling story rebecca snaps I found myself looking at all the photos as a whole and see what immediately caught my eye then I tried to storyboard it when done I came up with the story probably similar to others when a sense of pride in this case ownership is forcibly removed sense of self worth is irreparably damaged, I ended up with a chair outside to promote a feeling that is not all lost that's a great it's, a great way of describing it integrate process that she went through exactly and ultra ville that said, this was a great assignment. As I edited down, I find I was selecting on emotion. Images of room still full of possessions struck me the most there's a sense of urgency and desperation. While great in composition and color, images of empty rooms felt like any old abandoned house, there wasn't a sense of life or loss for that matter. It sounds like the people online are getting the point of the exercise is not to beat up on me, though, you know, you feel better because you got to get back because I've been punching, jabbing it with you through the last couple days or so, but the idea is to step outside of the work, look at it, understand the emotional context, that narrative context to try to build up a collective set. Um and it's something you were asking you think julie was asking about critiquing other people's work? This is another way of coming out and saying, you should be saying to you, piers now, hey, give me your top hundred, I'll get him down to fifty fifteen and then you say to the deal is that you're gonna have to do the same for me when I'm further along in my project, um and it's something that I do, as you can see with lots and lots of people, so I'm going to stand up here and go around the front, try not to trip over than anything as I go, and I'm gonna move on now to the next segment. Any last questions about that editing process for you? Three? That was tough, fifteen minutes. It is stuff, right? Yeah, well, I do it that way apart because that's the structure that I used every time I do this exercise but is most because you could also go on for hours, and I actually don't want you to do that. I don't want you to actually spent a lot of time talking about it. Thinking about one of the comments that came in on line was this sort of very visceral emotional reaction. That's what I really want you to do, we view photographs two ways. We have an intellectual experience that's a building with a sign and we read the type. But we also view photographs intuitively, our first reaction, the structure, the rye goes toe white, all that kind of stuff, and so that's what I'm trying to get you to do in the fifteen minute deadline kind of forces you tow work within that and it's a good exercise for your own work if you do it for other people because we could talk ourselves into anything, right, you can talk yourself into anything I love my photo love my dog room, it forces you to be on message and that's directly, a byproduct of my experience in the newspaper business, where you've got dead last it's not negotiable, you need to be done in a certain time, so it forced me to get down to the really symbol, just the sort of most important element of the photograph, and get past the rest. Was there another question? Who's? It was more about form, which is when you have an issue where they're similar photos, but some of the burnt ones of vertical ones, the horizontal, that kind of thing to hold on to both just because you don't know what, how it's gonna be used. I mean, in the publication world, you most certainly do in the web world, I'm finding more and more and it's really such a major change for me of nice told you before, I used to default vertical now I was trying to force myself all things being equal to default horizontal, because that screen that's, that's, where we live as commercial photographers and it's, a horizontal, increasingly it's, a sixteen by nine ratio. And so that's, where I'm more driven to do horizontal zen verticals.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

David H Wells - Business
David H Wells - Literary Journals List.pdf
David H Wells -
David H Wells -
David H Wells - Sample
David Wells - Keynote Day 1.pdf
David Wells - Keynote Day 2.pdf
David Wells - Keynote Day 3.pdf

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David H Wells -

Ratings and Reviews


First off, I was a photo assistant for a few years to a photographer who did numerous multi-day workshops. This was my first time as a student sitting in on a webinar that actually kept me interested. Sometimes I'm turned off by the pace of the teacher, his or her voice, or the manner in which they disseminate the information. But this was truly fantastic. David showed lots of his work in a way that was NOT egotistical in any sense (something that does happen quite often). I was utterly impressed by the quality of his work, the wealth of knowledge he has on the world, culture and politics, and how he shoots "on the go". All of those qualities are essential parts to creating a great photo essay/story. I came into this seminar needing inspiration and in the end I have more ideas than I know what to do with. David's work is truly magnificent; his photo stories pertain to people and their struggles, which really could be something any one of us could go through at any point, but he shows it in a way that is beautiful - either beautifully desperate or beautifully destructive - instead of in an exploitative way. On a side note, he also offered up a lot of great information having to do with funding, exposure, workflow, time efficiency, income streams, releases... you won't find this a lot with other photographers. You will find the "go find the info yourself" attitude. This has been my problem as of late with photography - we don't work together as artists, we work against each other competing for what, I'm not sure. David's seminar seemed to embrace photography as the art form it is, and shared with us the tools that we as artists need to really understand and utilize in order to get our story out there. A story it seems he really wants to see/hear. Just an amazing "Thank You"!!!!

a Creativelive Student

I have purchased a number of classes on Creative Live. This class taught by David Wells is one of the best. David is a thorough teacher, personal and connects with his students. Along with his superb and inspiring imagery David talked about his experiences in getting funding, his workflow, developing his stories and distributing his work. David is talented, generous and an excellent teacher. Highly recommended class.

Anjani Millet

Just completed the course. Fantastic, practical information on everything from grant writing, finding foundations, proposal development, even how to shake hands overseas. I am not sure where else I would have found this information for photographers. So appreciate it. One friend asked if this would be worth watching for anyone outside the US and the answer is a definitive yes. Very happy I purchased, and already starting to implement.

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