Did You Forget the Gold You Have Laying Around on Your Hard Drive?

Over the years, I have taken a huge amount of photographs. At the same time, I have also developed as a photographer, and my view on photos has changed.

Many of us probably know the feeling of going through our portfolio and thinking: “what was I thinking when I made this photo?” As we change and develop our style, what we look for, and hone our photographic skills, our perception of our own work changes. What you once thought to be an amazing photograph is now mediocre at best. This is a very normal side effect of your growth as a photographer. However, with this change, you might also see some of your unprocessed raw files in a new light or perspective. This has happened to me on several occasions. The latest example is the one from the video above.

Back in 2017, I visited the Faroe Islands for the first time and went to one of the more iconic locations. I went there mainly to get the epic photo of the mountain, as seen in this photo:

During the same visit, I also tried some other perspectives from another vantage point, a perspective and photo I had not seen before. I got some pretty good photos due to the amazing light we had.

Fast-forward a couple of years, and I am here again, hosting a workshop. I set up my camera, used the built-in intervalometer of my Sony a7R III, and made the 3-4 minutes’ walk away from my camera and the group to pose for them. After some processing, it turned out to be a good photo, despite the conditions and light being a bit “meh.”

Knowing this photo turned out so well inspired me to revisit my old folder where I knew the light was better. In the above video, I show several of the unprocessed photos I took that day, share my thoughts on them, and show how I processed the photo, which you can see here:

Have you experienced the same? Maybe even just browsing your old photos and stumbling upon something you did not see before?

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9 Comments

Dave McDermott's picture

Yes I do this a lot. Sometimes my favourite photos from a shoot are the ones I missed first time round and only discovered months later. It's always good to look back on old shoots. You'd never know what you might find.

Stuart Carver's picture

This is definitely something I plan to do once I have more experience.. at the moment my ‘old’ photos are beginner and just general bad technique so not really salvageable.

Tom Reichner's picture

When I saw the title of this article, I thought, "How did he know?!!!"

My main winter project is to go through my archives and "dig for gold", searching for images that I can edit in new ways in order to market more images and generate more income. I've only been at it for a week, but think I am already off to a pretty good start!

For may years, the only editing program I ever used was Apple's iPhoto and now "Photos", the image editing software that comes already loaded on every Apple computer you buy.

I just started using Photoshop last week, hence the renewed interest in my old images. There is so much to learn, and I am not crazy about the learning part because focusing and concentrating makes my brain hurt. But, I must admit that the rewards will be worth the effort. This Photoshop thing could lead to some new ways to use and market my images.

Jacques Cornell's picture

"Lay" is a transitive verb. "Lie" is instransitive. My photos are lying around on my hard drive.

Tom Reichner's picture

I guess in that case my pics are lying around and laying around. They're around, and they're laying, so ......

Jacques Cornell's picture

What, exactly, are your photos laying? Are you saying they're having sex? Are they picking up objects and putting them down?

Tom Reichner's picture

All of the above ..... my photos are laying around, lying around, lounging about, placing things down on various surfaces, and doing and being sundry other things

Roger Moffatt's picture

Yes! I posted this around the same time as this article and couldn't agree more. https://fstoppers.com/groups/landscape-and-nature-photography/443547/re-... it's really interesting to pick a shoot, turn off the star filter and re-review all the images (I keep *everything*) - there is indeed often hidden gold in those photos and even if you end up deciding you chose and edited well the best images from the shoot, you enjoy re-living the experience at a distance.

This is the perfect thing to do in the darkest days of winter if you're stuck in the house and I have to say that I find LR's ability to deal with tens of thousands of images with relative ease a real facilitator for such a project.

Attached, image re-processed from a 2010 shoot in the UK that I came across this very weekend.

Rod Kestel's picture

I sometimes run a slideshow that randomly picks images...laying...around on my drive. I'm often suprised and delighted to see the occasional gem (among...amid...) the crud. Love your images BTW.