the edit

Back when I first started in the newspaper business, everything I shot was on black and white film.

I would shoot my day’s assignments and then head back to the darkroom to process my film, sleeve the negatives and then make a handful of prints for the editors to edit.

Shortly after that, newspapers including mine, started using color photos periodically on the front of the daily edition.

So, at certain assignments, I was called on to shoot my normal black and white rolls but also to take a couple rolls of color slide film. It was a nightmare. During a shoot, I would have two cameras , one with color and one with black and white. I had to alternate with each camera and hope that the best photo was taken with the color camera so it could go on the front page.

The worst part though was that I had to send my color slide film to our main office to be developed. That meant that I was not part of the editing process and the editors saw all my mistakes before I could hide them.

Next came the advent of color negative film which gave the control back to the photographer and any image could run in color or black and white. I still had to go into the office with all my film and an editor could sit with me and go through my whole take but I was able to pre-edit the takes.

Today, I shoot with digital cameras and I rarely go into the office to edit my images. Now I sit in my car or at a Starbuck’s and transmit back my  favorites for the editors to select. In my 9 years at the Tribune, only once has an editor looked at every photo that I took on an assignment. There just isn’t time for that to be done.

What this means is that photographers are trusted on a daily basis to quickly edit their takes and send back what they think is best. I think that I am a pretty good self-editor but at times I miss a really good photo.

Sometimes, especially when working on long-term stories, I will go back through old takes to check if I missed a key image. On daily assignments, I rarely do that.

This morning I took a second look at my Honor Flight photos from Wednesday night and found several that I didn’t pull out the first time through. Besides liking the content I also think these work better in color.

©2009 Chicago Tribune/ Scott Strazzante


8 Responses to “the edit”

  1. Scott, just want to let you know that I always enjoy reading your blog and looking at your images.

    Re: re-editing projects:

    As time passes while working on long-term stories, we connect with the people more, we come to understand the story and issues at hand better. That’s why I’ve actually got in a habit to look through my older edits a few days, weeks, or even months later again to look for what I missed or over-estimated in the first round too.

  2. I absolutely love that first photo. What a great moment.

  3. Beautiful work Scott. What a flurry of emotions. Thanks so much for sharing more takes.

  4. You forgot to mention that 1 of the processes of the B&W was to lock your fellow photogs out of the darkroom cuz you didn’t know them. Great shots.

  5. Scott, I know what you mean about taking second runs at the editing process.
    Many times i, too, realize that a good picture was missed or that one-two of my picks that ended up being sent, shouldn’t have been.
    It is interesting, what you say about being part of the process in the b&w days. All the photographers i know who worked for a paper in those days sigh with nostalgia about not having to deal with the editing. Shoot&forget was the way they did things here(Israel).
    BTW, i should thank you for choosing this theme. When a friend showed me your blog, i immediately knew this would be one that i’d follow – because of your photos, obviously. And when i decided to open a blog for myself a few weeks later, i knew that i wanted the same theme.

    Great work, keep it up!

  6. I back edited your sports Images all the time when you used to burn DVDs but the best images were always in the system. -jk

  7. These are awesome images, and you are right about back editing. I keep everything, and my 350G hard drive is half full. I back up to a 1.5T external as well.

    I am going to make sure to put the stuff on my hard drive on DVD to free up space on my PC, but I always keep at least two copies. I spend slower months (winter) going through shots and seeing if there is something new I can edit and share. It is like having a treasure chest!

  8. I found the link to this on the Honor Flight Chicago website. The man in the first photo is Bill Malling. This trip meant the world to him and his family. Thank you for this beautiful photo!

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