If you’re going to do something….

…do it right obsessively. That’s my motto.

I hate to say it but I’m STILL working on our Maine photobook. In fact, I’m only up to page 10. 10!! My last photobook was 111 pages! At this rate – I won’t be finished until 2014!!

So, what gives?? Well – for starters, there’s the full-time job. Then there’s the prospect of moving – which means lots of home projects/prepping as well as meetings with all types of people – let’s just consider this my new part-time job.

But there’s another factor…

BeforeAfter5_01An example of how I refuse to leave well enough alone….and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

I always joke that I have OCD, but I know that’s not funny to anyone who has actually been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I don’t mean to make light of a serious disorder, I just don’t know how else to describe the fact that there is something very obsessive AND compulsive to how I carry out any project. It’s the opposite of Nike’s motto – I never ‘just do it’. Instead, I spend time thinking and planning (I call this “marinating”), and then when I finally do dive into a project, I dive in DEEP – and that is where I get lost. Lost in the details. Lost in the possibilities.

Case in point: the Maine photobook. I had started going through and deleting pictures back in February. THAT was a chore because we had brought 2 cameras with us (resulting in lots of duplicates). In addition to that, I have a horrible habit of taking advantage of large memory cards by snapping 18 shots of the same scene. The theory is that one of them is bound to be perfect! Ugh. So, with about 1,000 or so pictures – that took weeks.

Then, just when I thought I was ready to upload to Shutterfly and start the book, I decided I wanted to edit some of the pics in Photoshop* … Well, that quickly snowballed into editing ALL of the pictures in Photoshop! All. Of. Them. 600+ photos.

*Sidenote: IMO, anyone who exhibits this obsessive compulsive behavior should NOT have access to Photoshop! Being able to zoom in 800% to see individual pixels is akin to giving a needle to an addict!

I just wasn’t satisfied with what our point and shoots captured, and felt that I could improve the pics to better convey what we actually saw (see: obsessive). Besides – I’m going through all of the effort to make the photobook, so I want the pics to look good. And of course, if you’re going to do something, do it right. <– See that? All of that right there? That's the crazy talk that I used to justify the 10ish hours it took to edit all of the photos!

Crazy right?? I thought so too – but I couldn’t stop myself (see: compulsive)! Oh, and if this doesn’t sound nutty enough, keep in mind that the WHOLE time I was debating with myself whether or not the editing was worth it. Yup – nothing like an internal dialogue to completely tip the crazy scale!

For some of the pictures it was quick: open, auto tone, save and close. Done-zo. But others took anywhere from 5-10 minutes: tweaking levels, burning or dodging, and playing with the color balance, to get it juuuust right (all while making sure I don’t go overboard and make it look Photoshopped).

In an effort to prove that this extra step WAS worth it (and to try and defend myself when I exposed my crazy on my blog), I made some before and afters. Here’s a sampling of the changes I made:

Exhibit A: Small adjustments, slight improvement. Necessary? Probably not.
Sidenote: This was the view from our hotel balcony in Bar Harbor!

BeforeAfter4_01Exhibit B: Big adjustments, BIG improvement. Necessary? Definitely.
This was a shot from our evening bikeride around Witch Hole Pond in Acadia National Park.

BeforeAfter2_01Crookedness? Gone! Washed-outness? Gone! But, it’s a relatively underwhelming photo.
I doubt this one will even make the photobook – so: Necessary? No.

BeforeAfter7_01Powerlines? Gone! Necessary? Yes. This one will definitely be in the photobook.

Another example of big adjustments, big improvement. Necessary? No. It’s a bad angle, so this won’t be in the photobook…but I fixed it when I was on autopilot, before realizing we had better pics from this spot to use.
Obsessive. Compulsive. Sigh.

BeforeAfter9_01Final example: a shot from the top of Mount Washington in NH. Necessary: Ab-so-lutely.

So, in a simple overview like this – sure, the fixes were worth it! But when I think back to the day I spent (or wasted? It was a beautiful Saturday), especially on pics that I won’t even use – I cringe.

I think being a little obsessive or slightly compulsive is good – in fact, I think it’s known as “passionate”. But, I think I need to learn to set limits…come up for air every once in awhile after diving in. Step back and take a look at the project as a whole, not each piece of the project as a mini-masterpiece.

And perhaps Project Life will be a good project to test this ‘stepping back’ approach – because, if not, I could see a Project Life spread EASILY taking over many beautiful Saturdays (ughh – I cannot let that happen).

We’ll see – old habits (and self-diagnosed disorders) die hard.


2 thoughts on “If you’re going to do something….

  1. Heh. The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking “Project Life will help you! I swear!” and then you said it :) Because the point is to just Get. It. Documented. (especially if you do weekly spreads). If it takes you too long, you’re behind. So ta-da! That’s why I love Project Life. It totally forces me to let go, step back, and see that imperfect is actually perfect and quirky and awesome.

    Also, I forget what it’s called in Photoshop – action? You don’t like using that to “auto-adjust” every single photo all at once then tweak from there if necessary?

    • Ha – we’ll have to wait and see. Project Life will either be very, very good for me…or very, very dangerous :P

      And yes – Photoshop does have Actions – which I do utilize sometimes, but for the most part – the changes I made were pretty unique to each photo.

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