I’ve been thinking about this photo tip for a while, mostly because I make it a habit to review my archive from years ago. As photographers who constantly practice and learn new things, it is natural for our sensibilities to evolve. What we thought looked good before may not today.

This can be attributed to a number of reasons, each of which may have large or subtle effects on what we find visually pleasing. We’re spending more time than ever looking at other people’s work. We read articles and watch tutorials on techniques that we may not have known about before. New software gets released all the time, offering different ways to express ourselves.

All of these things have an impact on how we approach our photos, both in the way we compose and in the way we process, Change is a constant that we should fully embrace and I find it really rewarding to see how my own photographic sensibilities have evolved over time. In this case, I am focusing on two photos taken, edited, and shared six years ago.

I took this photo in 2008 while touring around Arizona and Utah with some good friends. I was using a Canon Digital Rebel XTi at the time and was still very much in my formative years as a landscape photographer. We pulled off to the side of the road right near Mile Marker 13, famously depicted in the movie, Forrest Gump.

When I first edited this photo back then, I didn’t have a fraction of the editing knowledge that I do now. On top of that, I had totally different sensibilities around what I thought was visually appealing. When I look at the 2008 version today, I cringe a because of how overly baked I let me photo get. But at the same time, I look at it fondly because I see where I came from and where I am now. With that said, I want to make an important point here: I do not feel that one version is better than the other. One photo represents the photographer I was and the other represents the photographer I am.

This exercise of reviewing your own journey as a photographer is instrumental to facilitate your growth. I’m personally happy to see a rather significant difference between then and now with this photo. I feel that, while the 2014 Version stylization is certainly apparent, it is much more subtle than the 2008 Version. Additionally, I opted to replace the sky with one that adds more substance to the background, further illustrating an evolution of technique applied. I had also learned to identify and remove distracting elements in the 2014 version that were otherwise left in frame with the 2008 version.

To further illustrate my own evolution, I re-edited another old favorite taken on the same trip at the famed Horseshoe Bend, near Page, AZ. When reviewing the freshly re-processed 2014 version and the original 2008 version, I realized that I have become more sparing with the crispiness of the Clarity slider and have learned to appreciate contrasting warm tones against cool ones more. Mind you, I still very much like the older 2008 version. I simply feel that this new 2014 version better represents the photographer that I am today. Knowing this makes me feel more confident that I am on the right path for growth and evolution. It also makes me really eager to wonder what the 2020 version of me will think of the 2014 version.

I hope this post inspires you to go back through your own archives with a fresh set of eyes. Find images that you had worked on and honestly ask yourself whether you would do anything differently today. Just remember that these older images represent where you were as a photographer, which is such a critical component to knowing where you are now and where you want to go.


BrianMatiash_Headshot2014Brian Matiash is a Portland-based published photographer and author. He is a member of Sony’s Artisans of Imagery as well as the Global Photos Products Evangelist for Google.

To find out more about Brian’s work, click HERE.


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Join the conversation! 11 Comments

  1. I’ve been going through my archive of photos taken since 2006. I’ve deleted over half the photos in the library, and need to delete at least another half again! The truth is there are probably only about 100 non family photos I’d be sorry to lose in a major hard drive crash. That’s another subject though.

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  2. Great idea, but sometimes I get lost in the past.

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  3. I am curious about what processing program you use now?

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  4. Great post! The advantage of shooting raw. I have gone back to some of my early images from my Canon 1Ds and 1Ds Mark II and used the newer processing engines of Lightroom to reprocess certain images and the differences/improvements can be astonishing!

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  5. I agree. We are always learning. Our work will never be static. As you say new software is always being developed and we need to embrace it and go with the flow so to speak. 😀

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  6. Reblogged this on and commented:
    This is awesome! It’s one of my favorite things to do!
    Enjoy

    Reply
  7. Brian, I have been scanning Kodachrome 25 slides from 1979 and processing them in Lightroom & onOne.very happy with the results , even using some of your presets in Perfect Effects – It’s a great to see old technology enhanced by today’s

    Reply
  8. […] of Brian Matiash on almost the same thing… (he only describes it better) make sure you read his post as […]

    Reply
  9. Excellent article I posted something similar today on my blog…http://www.martijnvandernat.nl/a-processing-post/ only not as eloquently put as yours.. 😉

    cheers Brian!

    Reply
  10. I couldn’t agree with you more, Brian. I have been entertaining the same path to develop photoart more. That is where it truly becomes personal and one-of-a-kind.

    Reply

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About Brian Matiash

My name is Brian Matiash. I am a professional photographer, published author, and educator based in Lincoln, NE. I specialize in fusing landscape & travel photography with experiential storytelling and practical instructing to help others grow creatively. I’ve spent the better part of a decade educating, empowering and inspiring photographers all around the world with my tutorials, videos, and stories. Furthermore, I use my years providing social and content strategy for some of the world’s largest companies to develop and execute on a variety of marketing campaigns successfully and authentically. I am proud to closely partner with some of the world’s best photography and technology companies, all of whom play vital roles in my creative workflow. I am a Zeiss Lens Ambassador, a Wine Country Camera Aficionado, and a member of G-Technology’s G-Team. I also contribute regularly to a variety of photography publications, both online and in print.

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Inspiration, Opinion, Photography, Technique & Tutorials

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