Why You Should Look At Your Old Work

Originally Published January 24th, 2019

As part of a project that I’m working on this year—I have begun the torturous process of digging through old archives.

#itsucks

But I think there are some benefits to looking at your old work.

Here are some thoughts on why I think it’s important:

You’re Emotionally Disconnected

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I just tossed nearly 30 gigs of photos on my desktop. I’ll back them up (twice) before erasing the images and not looking at them again for some time.

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Letting your photos sit for a while allows you to disconnect from them emotionally.

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Photos hold sentimental value.

A picture that you think is awesome may only be perceived that way because you love the memory of taking the photo, the circumstances, the time, the place etc.

After you give yourself time to forget about all those things, you can be a better judge of whether or not the photo is actually good.

You Can See How Much You’ve Grown As An Artist

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When I look back on my photos from years ago, it gives perspective on how far I’ve come as an artist.

I see the mistakes that I made, the cheesy filters that I thought were cool, the lack of skills I had in photoshop etc.

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Its gratifying to look back at where you started—the early struggles—and see how far you’ve come in your craft.

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It’s always good to remember where you came from.

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It can also help you identify areas that you need to improve.

You May Find A Hidden Gem

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I take 1000s of photos.

I’m terrible at organizing them.

Unfortunately, a lot of good images get pushed to the side in the hustle of day to day life.

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Going back through your archives allows you to find lost photos—hidden gems.

Identify Common Themes

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One reason why I’m going through my old images is to find a common theme. I’m working on a zine that will incorporate photos from when I first started as a photographer.

The theme will be images that make no sense—if that makes sense. I want to find photos that I’ve taken throughout the years that you have to think about.

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Maybe you take a lot of photos of dogs? Maybe you have a whole series on pizza?

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You won’t be able to recognize themes in your photos until you’ve put the time in and developed a body of work.

Going through your archives can help you start to recognize occurring themes.

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To Inspire Yourself

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As artists—it’s common for us to be very self critical. You may look at the images you’re making today and not necessarily be happy with them.

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Looking back on old photos for me is very inspiring. It reminds me of why I chose the craft, why I work at it everyday to become better.

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Looking at my old work just makes me want to pick up a camera and go look for that spark that started it all.

-Tim

The photos in this post come from a 365 project I did in 2013. I made it 120ish days. All photos of my lovely wife Ashley. Even though I didn’t reach my goal of 365—I definitely don’t regret having these pictures to look back on. 

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