Portland Photographer Susan Seubert on why to hire an editor

A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to sit down with photo editor extraordinaire, Mike Davis.  If you haven’t visited his web site, you should.  It’s chock full of useful information and good stories.  Here in the backwaters of Portland, it’s rare to be able to have someone with such a remarkable résumé look at your work and give an opinion.  So I found myself at his doorstep, slightly hesitant, knowing where he’s been and who he has worked with and thinking that perhaps what I shoot isn’t up to his par.  My work has largely consisted of travel photography, mostly features for publications like National Geographic Traveler and The New York Times.  In the past, he has hired me to shoot for Mix magazine, when he was the editor there, but there’s something vastly different about bringing a group of photos to your assigning editor versus showing up with a hard drive containing over 600 random pictures just to see how he/she would sequence them.  I don’t know if it was good or bad that it took only a couple of hours to whittle those images down to a group of 24.

I had given my husband the same group of images with the same missive: edit the 600 down to 24.
He is no schlock when it comes to editing photographs.  He definitely has a completely different history: one informed by the complex world of fine art photography which is often out of step with Mike’s world: one that is heavily steeped in the tradition of photojournalism.  My husband is also just that, my husband.  He can’t possibly see my images without seeing me, (and my fragile ego).  Although what’s amazing is that there was a certain amount of crossover.

It’s important to find someone whose vision you admire and then allow them to see your work wholly through their eyes.  Step aside and let them look, check your attachment to pictures at the door.  Mike’s history and experience informs all his decisions about how he sees. His perception is truly unique.  He saw things in my pictures that I never have and never could.  It was a wonderful experience and I’m sad I didn’t take more pictures for the initial edit.  I’m thinking of going back.

Here’s Mike’s Sequence.

The final 24, in order of appearance

These images were made with every possible variety of camera from Holga to Hasselblad.  I’ll be printing this as a small book soon.

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