Lately I've been going through my photo archives and doing some cleanup work. I've been looking at my work with a critical eye and ruthlessly deleting images that are just taking up space on my drive. There are plenty of images that I never did anything with, particularly from my early days of learning the art of photography. Looking back through my archives I see plenty of images that just need to go away. They weren't good then and they aren't good now. On the other hand, sometimes I find things that I set aside because I just wasn't sure what direction to take them. Sometimes it takes a fresh look years later for something to click.
Such is the case with some photos I took of my good friend and model, Model Eight. We were playing around in my studio (aka an empty room at my old office building). I was experimenting with hard light using one or two hot shoe flashes off camera. These photos were all captured with the intention of being color images. Back at home on my computer, they just didn't seem to work in color and for whatever reason I didn't even bother trying to process in black and white. I was so new to portraiture and I just figured I'd screwed up. Yet, for some reason I didn't delete these images. When I came back around to these files in my archives years later, I finally saw something.
I used VSCO presets in Lightroom as a base to process the raw files from my Canon DSLR and came up with a look that I liked. I still ended up deleting a lot of the old files but a few like these were saved from the cutting room floor. What I was missing at the time I shot these was vision on my part. I was experimenting with new techniques, which is certainly not a bad thing, but I didn't have any idea where to take what I was capturing. That's the most difficult lesson to learn in photography - learning to see, both what exists in a moment in time and what has the potential to exist. Gear and technique are such a small part of the puzzle. Being able to see in your mind what you want to create before you click the shutter button - that's the secret to creating something special.