i’m currently trying to finish up another wedding and it reminds me what a great skill, what a brilliant, ego-stripping exercise it is to edit. and not just in the sense of being clearer with the imagery you DO use, but learning how to recognize when you’ve overstayed the moment.
culling pictures is much like culling pointless words.
i’m sitting here going through my initial choices, images that had seemed superb, necessary, months ago now appear frivolous. do three mostly-similar pictures of the same bridesmaids walking a brick path tell a story any better than one? will throwing in four or five more shots from the ceremony, depicting no difference in body language or emotion, express the feeling of being joined in front of your friends better than one carefully chosen shot?
what i’m doing in those cases is padding this portfolio so it will seem like i worked harder than i did, that i was in ten different places as i documented this day, that somehow more images means reaching more of an audience. more bang for their buck and more happiness all-around.
the truth is that i did work hard, i picked my moments really well and snapped more shots than i needed to because that’s how you cover your ass. but working hard on the day-of, just like working hard in crafting a first draft, sometimes means you’re going to work twice as hard in the edit because you will want to preserve the feeling of that effort.
let it go. it’s not about cramming, showing off, distracting people with too many embellishments. it’s not about clinging to those clever phrases and heavy descriptions as if marking the effort you made means more than the story you’re telling.
let it go. you will write glorious things again and again. they don’t need to all live within one work.
rick steves, the travel guy, gives this advice to travelers who fear that they will miss out on a city’s greatest offerings because they are on a limited time-frame: Travel as if you plan to return one day.
this means you don’t spend your valuable time regretting things you haven’t seen while other opportunities are right in front of you.
apply this advice to editing your precious, heavily jeweled fictions and it comes to the same: Cut away the things you love if they halt the momentum of your tale, and expect to return to them one day in some other work.