“Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one’s mistakes.” ― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
So, why wasn’t this image used? It was not what we wanted. It was a mistake. The original set was intended to showcase Sasha’s makeup using a very dynamic set of colors in an extremely contemporary style. To achieve our purpose, faces needed to be clear of any obstruction. This face is beautifully obstructed by the model’s hair, so it would not work for the desired purpose. That’s just the way things go in our world. In non-digital days it would have gone into the trash bin.
Photographers take plenty of bad photographs. We always have. I am amused now when someone comes across what they think is a treasure trove of never-before-seen old negatives or plates from a long-dead photographer and they decide to publish them. Rarely does one stop to think that perhaps there is a damned good reason why the photos weren’t seen before. Some were full of errors. Some were intended as nothing more than practice. Others were perhaps embarrassing or revealed something the photographer had no intention of ever making public. Yet, now they’re out in the open, quite possibly in violation of the photographer’s wishes.
I remember meeting a young Playboy Playmate, fresh off her gatefold shoot in Chicago. While gushing about how wonderful the experience was, she expressed disappointment that, prior to taking the shots that would eventually appear in the magazine, photographer Arny Freytag had taken several Polaroid shots that littered the studio floor. After the shoot, she went to pick up one of the Polaroids as a memento and was immediately, and severely reprimanded. Those Polaroids, she was told, were the property of the Playboy Corporation and no, she could not have one. Playboy and every other successful magazine and ad agency have long understood what many have not: Losing control of the bad photographs makes the good ones worthless.
What happened was that a young photographer would drop 500 or so frames on a shoot, which could take a couple of hours or more. The model, frustrated and only getting a handful of shots she didn’t like, would ask the photographer if she could have a disk with all the unedited shots. Foolishly, the photographer would comply, the model would put really horrible edits of really ridiculous photos on her MySpace page or blog, and war would ensue between model and photographer over who had the right to publish what.
As we go through this week of pictures that were missed, we’re going to see some photos such as this one where one might be tempted to think, “How could you have missed that one?” When we do, we need to remember that not every frame snapped deserves to be published. There are endless reasons for not including a picture, from its inability to meet product or client requirements to changes in desired color or the wrong hair being out of place.
Prior to digital media, second chances like this rarely existed for a photograph. What wasn’t immediately used was typically burned to prevent an unapproved image from making it to publication. Photographers do well to guard their unpublished work so as to protect their reputations.
Yet, every once in a while, we save one like this that is just too good to throw away. The issue that kept it from being considered the first time make it all the more attractive now. I certainly don’t regret saving this one. Enjoy it, there won’t be more.