By Danielle Ashley Burke, PRC Workshop Assistant

Sequencing and editing a portfolio is one of the most important, daunting, and occasionally confusing things a photographer can do. From novice to professional everyone must make portfolio selections at some point, which is one reason it is great to get first hand information from a professional who has been doing so for decades. For me, signing up to be the workshop assistant for Ernesto Bazan’s Sequencing and Editing Workshop through the PRC could not have come at a better time. I had just graduated from photography school and was eager to get a fresh set of eyes on my work.

(c) Danielle Ashley Burke

The nine of us in the course were told ahead of time to bring 30 images to be critiqued (whether it be 30 from one series, or 30 images we considered to be our best work). Ernesto was able to give each person a great amount of time going over each and every image. He promised to be critical but constructive in order to help us improve and he definitely delivered.

(c) Danielle Ashley Burke

Throughout the weekend he taught us all to watch for distracting elements and instilled in us that for each and every image we must “justify the full frame.” By the end of the weekend, we were able to assist in critique by pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of each other’s work. It was refreshing to see that by the second day those of us who were showing our work could even edit out images of our own that we knew weren’t strong enough to make the cut.

(c) Danielle Ashley Burke

I believe that everyone was able to take home a lot of valuable information from this workshop and gain a foundational knowledge for making portfolio selections in the future. While it may always be difficult to edit your own work, with the right perspective we should all be able to succeed.

 

Workshop Photos by Bimal Nepal

(c) Bimal Nepal

(c) Bimal Nepal

(c) Bimal Nepal

(c) Bimal Nepal

(c) Bimal Nepal

Bimal Nepal, an attendee of this workshop and PRC member, is an award-winning photographer based in Cambridge, MA. His work has been appeared in National Geographic, numerous websites and blogs, news media and stock portfolios including iStockphoto and Corbis Images. He specializes in photojournalism, documentary photography, and environmental portraiture. He currently works as fashion and model photographer at InterFace, Boston and as a contributing photojournalist for Demotix, a London-based news agency.

One Response to “WORKSHOP RECAP: Sequencing and Editing with Ernesto Bazan”
  1. John Bunzick says:

    I also took the Ernesto Bazan workshop. Ernesto’s work is about photographing people; my work is strictly urban landscape and never includes people (except occasionally as incidental background elements). Nevertheless, I decided to give it a whirl because editing a portfolio is so difficult for me: what to leave in, what to take out. Especially what to take out.

    Right away, I could see that Ernesto is a quick read. After one quick run-through, he can then go back through a portfolio and pick out the best and the worst. No agonizing, no indecisiveness (not too much, anyway). Cut to the chase and be honest. What sometimes seems harsh, I felt, was not really because his critiques were very useful. Each person, I hope, came away realizing their strengths and weaknesses, and could build upon that to become better artists.

    I was not surprised to find that the other eight students in the class included mostly people in their work. I began to wonder if Ernesto would be able to respond to my images in a way that would be helpful. We’d just have to see.

    When he talked about images, he emphasized form and content – seems simple enough, right? But I basically knew that and hadn’t been able to distill that into useful editing skills. If an image is very well composed, but doesn’t have unique, additional visual interest beyond the composition, it will not be successful. Some of my images were so much about graphic and formal design, that the content was lacking.

    Everything in the frame counts. Distracting content, such as “messy” backgrounds or competing elements can kill an otherwise good image. Poorly framed and composed images will detract from a beautifully captured moment. Posed portraits often lack visual interest because they do not tell us anything about the person.

    The hardest part, perhaps, is emotional detachment. We may have a personal connection to the person in the photo, or to the place it was taken. But the other viewers won’t have this, and can’t see it. We may also come to really like a photo even though it failed to have the right mix of form and content. For all of these images, we have to let go. Ernesto noted that often he gets maybe one good image out of a hundred shots. You have to keep trying, and you have to be aware as you shoot to keep from repeating mistakes.

    In the end, Ernesto was not thrown by the lack of people in my photos. He was able to select about two-thirds of what I brought, and explain why he felt the others were not as interesting. More importantly, he explained what WAS interesting about the others. Often, this confirmed my instincts. I’ll be putting this critique to use right away.

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