Behind the Edit: I Heart My City
Each time an editor runs a Your Shot assignment, much of the excitement is driven by the fact that we have no clue what to expect. Time and again Your Shot photographers surprise and inspire us, revealing new points of view while driving meaningful conversation within the Your Shot community.
For the I Heart My City assignment, I simultaneously felt anticipation and concern. What new corners of the globe would I get a glance of? Would photographers connect with our travel series? Was the assignment direction clear enough for a topic that’s so broad, open to any number of interpretations? The thrill of a Your Shot assignment is that the photographs truly drive the final story. As editors, we often shape the direction of the stories we share, but Your Shot puts the power of the story in the community’s hands.
In the end, after sorting through thousands of images, I was faced with tough decisions. As strong as some images were, they simply didn’t fit into the overarching layout and visual flow of the final story. This happens at the magazine, online, and in Your Shot. It’s also why I relish my job. Making the tough decisions, deciding what photos work, is the meat of an editor’s job, and I always like a good challenge. So, what “near frames” hit the floor and missed the final layout? See below. Let me know what you think, because storytelling is a subjective path, and we all wander down it with our own points of view.
The Select:(Photograph by Alfredo - Bogdan Gheorghe)
The near frame: Featuring a similar subject matter, the near frame didn’t have quite as nice lighting or composition. Both picture a bicyclist and suggest an “off the cuff” moment on a common city day. The intimacy of the side street versus the plaza allows the viewer to imagine himself in the frame, lazily wandering down the street.
(Photograph by Alfredo - Bogdan Gheorghe)
The Select:(Photograph by Steven Anselm)
The near frame: This instance is a perfect example of when the layout dictates a decision. Though I might have gone with this image in another spot, the muted color palette of the trio of images living together and the smaller display in the story, made the Coney Island image the right select.
(Photograph by Michael Filippoff)
The Select:(Photograph by Karl Duncan)
The near frame: While both frames highlight a single person in the center of the image, the environments are quite different. In the narrow alley we feel cramped, almost claustrophobic, with a sense of either foreboding or revelry ahead. The city photo, on the other hand, reminds us of the scale of cities and how small you can often feel. Where is this person going on such a snowy night? Are they going home alone after a long workday? Or leaving a party filled with loved ones? The bridge in the background suggests how the physicality of cities weighs on daily life, watching over us all. In the end, the more intimate alley was my select, as the story was full of wider frames and the quality of the near frame just wasn’t quite there. There is, however, much to be said for the idea intended by this quiet photograph.
(Photograph by Glenn Weinrich)
The Select:(Photograph by Andrea Jako Giacomini)
The near frame: Cities are to be felt. They are busy, gritty, tantalizing, and evocative. I wanted some of the photography in the story to reflect the emotion and physical intimacy cities create between people. I had a number of night scenes already and not as many small moments between people. The select fit the bill and won. It captured the sometimes stereotyped, sometimes elusive, and always sought evening of adventure. The green glow of the overhead light dramatically enforces a movie scene occurring on a desolate street late at night. What is the couple’s story? We’re left to wonder, and the best pictures leave us with questions we try to answer on our own. Though the near frame shows another aspect of intimacy, it didn’t work in the smaller display as well. If one of the cyclists had turned their heads to show a profile or part of a face, the frame would be a winner, but without the personal connection, it missed the mark.
(Photograph by Asawin Lekprathum)
The Select:(Photograph by bin yu)
The near frame: Two versions of a night scene, flowing with purple traffic in Shanghai. Both frames suggest a busy city, packed with millions, but the select’s framing fully fills the foreground and uses the streets to literally bring the viewer into the center of the city.
(Photograph by Paul Reiffer)
Thanks again to all who participated in the I Heart My City assignment. I’m looking forward to telling another story with you.
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