The first day of class at Brooks in 1978, we received our first assignment, the EDL. The EDL, Every Day Life is all about taking photos of what we see every day, often things we take for granted and make a visual story about that event. It didn’t make a difference what your major might have been at Brooks, this assignment which is very editorial in nature was required. Being an Industrial major, it seemed really stupid to me and I didn’t like doing them at all. Not only did it take me way out of my comfort range, it required me to work at taking photos when I wanted to have fun. Man, am I ever glad that I was required to do these every week for a couple of years!
Now you’re all going to Photoshop World, right?! Because while there you need to listen to the talks by the master of EDLs, Jay Maisel. Called by most as the Father of Color Photography, Jay does EDLs every day and has done so for decades. You will hear him say that he always has a camera with him, literally and I can attest to never seeing him without his camera. Being considered one of the best (he really is), if this is part of his formula for being such, having a camera and shooting every day might just be a good idea for the rest of us. But just having a camera and shooting every day is only part of the formula. It does take a little bit more.
The one ingredient you must add to this formula is heart. While Jay’s famous formula of Light, Gesture and Color is essential, it takes the input of your heart to make the EDL to come to life. Because every day life has the element of laughter and crying, anger and happiness and so much more that makes the everyday events stand out and in our daily lives, what keeps us engaged with life. Bringing that to life and preserving it forever in our photography is an essential part of being a photographer. Now I shoot thousands of these but infrequently share them because, well, it’s one of those “You need to be here” to understand the content. Like this photo taken last week in Homer, AK as we’re waiting to fly back to the states. The pouring rain made the tarmac a mirror and after an incident, seeing the person as headless made me laugh. And so, I went click (Nikon 1 V3). The beauty of the EDL is it is a great teacher, making us look through a camera and then later at the photo to see if the story, emotion we felt when we went click was captured. That assignment that I thought was so stupid forty years ago is now a self assignment I do every day. It has become such an important component in my own photography and influence in my continual growth, I can’t imagine life without the EDL.