Rob White, left, and Adam Kalaowsky create a rainbow while practicing with a fire hose during a firefighter training session on the Portland waterfront on Nov. 7. I came across this session on a day off. Before leaving I had made arrangements to spend more time shooting future training sessions for a complete essay but for one reason or another I wasn't able to follow up. Buy Photo
Lou Savlen of Lexington, Mass., puffs on a cigar while fishing at Grand lake Stream on Oct. 11. There was something about his head being lost in a cloud of smoke that I liked. But the picture just didn't fit in with the more colorful photos of fishing during the fall foliage season. Buy Photo
Colorful fall foliage reflects on the water as Art McEvoy of Portland wades back to the shore of Grand Lake Stream on Oct 10. A wider shot showing McEvoy casting in colorful water was selected instead. I liked this photo because it seemed illustrative of the end of fishing season. Buy Photo
Lobsterman David MacVane's storage shed is reflected on the roof of his truck on Widgery Wharf in Portland. If you're doing a photo essay on Widgery Wharf you almost have to include a photo of this unique shed, whose color scheme is based on the design of MacVane's lobster buoys. A different shot of the shed showing more of Portland in the background was selected over this one. Buy Photo
Large portraits of Portland's homeless are displayed on a wall behind customers discussing business over morning coffee at the Public Market House. On my first visit to the market I immediately knew one of my photos had to include these striking portraits but I felt the portraits displayed on a nearby wall made for a cleaner photo. Buy Photo
This time-lapse set of photos shows treetops toppling around Bob Doyle, 71, as he works on removing a white pine in Winthrop on Dec. 14. You can only use so many photos of the man cutting tree limbs. I felt a different, single photo showing Doyle reaching out to cut a limb a few minutes earlier probably told the story of what he does better than this series. Buy Photo
The simple beauty of a water lily and its reflection on Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester on Aug. 23. I was working on an underwater photo essay at the time. A different image made with the camera slightly submerged to show the flower above the surface and its stem below made the final edit. Buy Photo
Dawn at Popham Beach on Dec. 12, as viewed from a picnic area at the state park. The previous day, before dawn, I shot the same exact scene under the light of the full moon. My daughter, who sometimes helps me edit my photos, liked this one but on this occasion I had to overrule her. Buy Photo
I’m often asked if it’s hard to find a subject to shoot for my weekly MaineFrame photo essay. Finding the subject is actually the easy part. There’s no shortage of visually interesting subjects to focus on in southern Maine. Probably the hardest part is finding the enough time to do the subject justice. A family, a day job, household chores… many factors can limit your time in the field. But for me, the second-hardest part of doing the photo essay is choosing which photos make the cut — and I don’t always make it easy on myself.
Photographers like to “work” a subject — shooting the same thing from different angles or in changing light. My problem is I tend to work a subject to death.
For a photo essay on Old Orchard Beach over the summer, I probably made more than a hundred pictures of the Pier alone. I shot it from beach level, reflecting on the wet sand at dusk, from the Ferris wheel at night, and again the next morning silhouetted against the dawn sky. The Pier was only part of the essay.
In September, I went to the 12 Hours of Bradbury Mountain bike race telling myself I’d shoot conservatively. But once the race started I found myself constantly switching between wide-angle and telephoto lenses. I used slow shutter speeds to convey motion and then set up an off-camera flash to freeze the action in the dark woods. I got down low to shoot from a mushroom’s view and later climbed a tree to see what the racers looked like from up there. By the time the race ended I had more than 500 photos to sort through.
Photography is very subjective. Ask three people to judge a photo contest and you’ll probably get three different winners. When I edit my photos I often get bogged down hemming and hawing over tiny details. Sometimes I’ll favor a photo because I know I put more effort into it even though the easy-to-make picture probably tells the story better. So once I’ve narrowed my selections down I look for a second, unbiased opinion.
Most experienced photo editors started out as photographers and probably have a journalism degree. The first editor I show my photos to just entered preschool. My daughter Bela may only be 3 years old, but she isn’t wishy-washy when I ask her to pick between two photos.
“Dat one, Daddy. I like dat one,” she’ll say, quickly pointing to one of the two pictures displayed on my laptop.
More often than not I’ll go with her pick as I narrow the final set of photos. Once I get them down to about a dozen I’ll email them to the paper and let the editors make the final selection.
What happens to the rejects? Well, this week some of them they get a second chance.