LET'S NOT BE TOO CRITICAL

I really enjoy taking photos.  Capturing an inspirational subject is rewarding and it provides an amazing memory of the moment the photo was taken.  

Having said that, in the past I’ve gone for months at a time without taking a single shot.  Why?  Well, most of the time it’s because I’ve been disappointed with the results.  At some point I will have taken a few photos in a row that I wasn’t happy with and thought… well what’s the point.  The photos are bad.  I’m a bad photographer.  Let’s not take any more photos.

I don’t think that I’m alone in this either.  Probably a lot of artists suffer from something similar at some point.  Do you? 

Well, if you do feel like giving up on your photography after a disappointing shoot, let me tell you why you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself.

Here's a photo that I'm not too sure about. There's quite a lot that I like about it, the colours and light are pretty good. For me, the composition lets it down. I need to remember this next time I'm out photographing.

IT'S FINE TO THROW AWAY SOME PHOTOS

When I go out on a photography session I might take a few hundred photos.  The chances are that most of these will never been shown to anyone else because they’re really not very good.  If I get ten pretty good photos from a hundred shots, I’m happy.  Ten in a hundred is way above par for me.

When we’re new to photography, our skills are very early in their development.  We get exposures wrong, we take photos with wonky horizons and the focus is hardly ever right.  Therefore logic might suggest that as a beginner we would throw away loads of poor photos, way more than a photographer who’s been at it for a few years.  However, I don’t think this is necessarily right.  Why?

If you’ve been taking photos for a long time now and you’re still throwing away the majority of your shots, it’s probably a sign that your standards are improving…. and that’s a really good thing.  A photo that you once would have thought was incredible is now nothing less than horrific.  Good job, you’re improving! 

If you step back a few years to the time when everyone was using film cameras, this would be more of an issue.  But we’re not using film, we’re using digital cameras.  If you need to take hundred shots to get one fantastic photograph, so be it.  But don’t get hung up on the shots that didn’t make the cut.

 

USE IT AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN

Once you’ve uploaded a batch of photos to your computer, have a a good look at them.  If you don’t like them, that’s fine… but ask yourself why you don’t like them.  Be specific too, otherwise what’s the point?  

Is it the composition?  If so, what about the composition don’t you like?  Too much sky?  Wrong focal length?  Would a wide angle shot provide a better sense of scale?  If you can’t decide what you don’t like about your photographs, you’ll find it difficult to improve upon them in the future.

Once you’ve worked out exactly what it is that you don’t like about your photos, remember this when you next go out photographing.  If you didn’t like that your photographs had too much noise, try a lower ISO.  Maybe you need to extend the exposure time so be sure to bring a tripod with you as well.  Then look at these photos on your PC… are they better?  Awesome.  Are they worse?  Lets try something different.  Maybe increase the aperture size next time.

Here's a photo that I took recently. When I got home and saw it I really didn't like it. Instead of telling myself that I'm a rubbish photographer it's up to me to find out what exactly it is that I don't like about it. What can I do to improve in the future? And very importantly, what do I like about this photo? What have I done well.

DON'T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS

As a photographer I spend quite a lot of time looking at other peoples photographs.  Two of my favourites are Chris Burkard and Mike Ver Sprill.  I find both their portfolios really inspiring.  So inspiring that it can sometimes be a bit disheartening.  How can they get so many amazing shots? 

Without doubt they both have an incredible eye, great photography skills and a shed load of experience.  In Chris’s case (and maybe Mike’s, I’m not sure), he’s made a career out of photography so he can dedicate a lot more time to travelling to amazing places and getting crazy shots!  Furthermore, both of these amazing photographers have been photographing for a long time now, so they’re bound to build up epic portfolios as time passes.  But really, none of this matters…

We shouldn’t be comparing our photographs to other peoples.  We can learn from them but we should be developing our own style, not copying the style of other photographers.  

I think it’s good to love other photographers work and to be inspired by it, but comparing their photos to your own is sure to end in disappointment.  So I try not to do it.  

MOST PHOTOGRAPHS AREN'T THAT GOOD

The reality is that most photographers take a whole load of mediocre photos and a small amount of great shots.  I’d imagine that some of my favourite photographers have taken hundreds of thousands if not millions of shots so far, but we only ever see a handful of them.  

So if you’re always disappointed with how many of your photos don’t make the cut, don’t worry about it.  It’s normal to throw away photos, just be sure to keep a hold of the good ones.  

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