Timothy Briner's Boonville blog, he writes about reviewing some of his own recent work and finding it disappointing, "as it always is when I first see it." My diagnosis leads to a pure case of "Contact Sheet Depression." Somewhere along my own path, I realized that rather than being giddy with my first view of new work, instead, the initial review process undoubtedly left me with a sinking feeling. Eager to spin toward hope (maybe sometimes rather than objectivity), I now try to remind myself that this disappointment is an important and necessary part of the process.
In the early days, the excitement of fresh pictures is related to the magic of discovering the new world created within the frame, that manipulation of the reality before us. I can't help but think that the disappointment Briner and I share when reviewing fresh pictures is a result of being experienced enough to adequately pre-visualize the final product, rather than discovering some new exciting world in the gap between what you see and what you get. That process of discovery (which keeps me motivated & excited) is now, more often than not, happening there on the spot, with camera in hand. You can only discover something once.
Briner does note that "after a few hours and a few beers, it wasn't so bad." Exactly. The only treatment that seems to do the trick for me is to put the pictures away and come back later, once the mindset of disappointment and embarrassment are fully ingrained. Then, with a loupe and a lack of expectations, usually a picture or two tend to rise up and make the whole damn thing salvageable. I hear you brother. Maybe we should start a support group? Wait, maybe we just did.