“Words became cheaper. They multiplied, but lost their value. They are everywhere. There are too many. They swirl, swarm, torment like clouds of insistent flies. They stun.

So we miss tranquility. We miss silence. Wandering through the fields. Through the meadows. Through the forest that hums, but does not waffle, does not jabber, does not toot.”

- Ryszard Kapuściński


Start killing your darlings.

One of the rules in photography, when preparing your material, during the selection phase is not to be afraid to kill your darlings. Darlings being all the photographs that you love, and probably only you understand. 

In a professional setting, personal preference does not matter (with some exceptions). What matters is the story you want to tell and how you tell it. 

I must say, it’s a bloodbath. One of the most painful, soul-crashing experiences I’ve lived through… Well, maybe not that bad, but you get my drift. 

A common practice is to do it with an editor or a close friend photographer whom you can trust. One that will be ruthless while, at the same time, giving a fresh look and some good argumentation. Supporting you in telling your story, not theirs.

Another option is to sleep with it. Print your photographs and lay them on the table in a sequence that feels right to you. Leave them for a few hours or days, then return to do the edits. Both of those techniques can, and often are, combined.

The goal is to have a coherent story that tells what you want to convey. Something that has rhythm and leaves a mark on the viewer. 

Now, think where you get stuck and stand by ideas, beliefs or statements that may be your darlings but don’t make sense anymore. They just don’t fit the story you are pursuing. They keep you in a limbo.

Which of those darlings should you kill today?

Originally published at subscribe.konkel.co


Letter to PWST students (State Higher Theater School) by Zbigniew Herbert*

“Warsaw, 12 January 1995

Dear Strangers!

We are quite a peculiar, small, quarrelsome cluster, without which splendid humanity can perfectly do.We are a hopeless minority, and what is worse, we usurp the right to raise anxiety. We want to force our neighbors to reflect on human fate, to the difficult love that we owe to great matters, including contempt for all those who persistently try to diminish a man and take away his dignity.

A wonderful, cruel and merciless life awaits you. Be at every moment, in every word spoken on the side of values, for beautiful craftsmanship, against trash, for the continuous effort of will and mind, against easy manners, for truth, against hypocrisy, lies, and violence. And don’t be modern, for God’s sake. Be honest. Grow in courage and modesty. May you be accompanied by faith in unattainable perfection and not leave anxiety and eternal torment that say that what we have achieved today is definitely not enough.

I wish you a difficult life, only such an artist is worthy. Good thoughts, greetings, and words of hope for you…”

* a Polish poet, essayist, drama writer and moralist.

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