We are our own worst critics. This much we know. The problem is, photography is one of those things where we have to be self critics to get better. Finding that delicate balance between beating ourselves up and being too easy on ourselves is a problem we have all struggled with in one way or another. But, as Mike Browne explains in the video below, we’re probably making it more difficult than it needs to be. Listen as the award winning photographer and educator dishes out his synopsis on why hating the photos you take is preventing you from getting better and what you can you do to fix it.
The Root Of Disappointment
At the root of disappointment we find an obvious, yet somehow unexpected culprit: Expectation. And, oh, what an unpredictable culprit she can be. How glorious it is when a photo we take exceeds our expectations, but when our photos don’t turn out quite like we expected them to, things can get a little ugly for our egos.
Think of how easy it would be if the disappointment we find in our own work was a direct result of the photograph itself. But, as Browne explains, it’s not actually the photo, per se, that is letting us down. We’re letting ourselves down by setting unrealistic expectations of how we think our photos should look.
“It’s not the physical aspects [of the image] that leaves us disappointed. It’s the unfulfilled expectations of how they should be. That is what leaves us feeling pissed off, disillusioned, and fed up. “
Here’s what we all seem to be forgetting…All those beautiful photographs we see, all of those amazing portfolios, and mesmerizing photo projects we adore, we don’t get to see the outtakes. We typically only see the very best photos from a collection. There is usually never any mention of the times these photographers messed up the shot, got it wrong, and/or had to start over. We only see the best of the best. The same goes with camera advertisements. Yes, in the hands of a seasoned photographer, it is possible to take photos on par with those used to sell you the camera, but if you are new photographer, that’s just not realistic (as we learned here).
Reel In Your Expectations…
…and start getting better at photography. Here’s three quick ways Browne recommends to lift the weight of a false reality off your shoulders.
- Honesty Is The Best Policy — You have to be honest with yourself about your skill level, personal abilities, and commitment level. You may have owned a camera for 5 years, but how much time are you really putting into it? How much time are you actively studying and practicing what you’ve learned? Not just casually out photographing, but, really, how often do you pick up your camera with the specific intention to learn something new? How many hours a day? Days a week?
- Are You A Professional? — If you answered no, then stop comparing the photos you take to the images you see spread out in Vogue and National Geographic. It’s okay if your images aren’t as good as those, don’t beat yourself up over it. Accept that the photos you are taking now are appropriate to your skill level. Sure, it’s helpful to study professional photos for inspiration and to learn new techniques, but you have to be willing to accept that you are still learning the craft and your images probably won’t look as nice as the photos used in the advertisements of that awesome new DSLR you just bought. At least not yet and that is perfectly okay.
- But, You Have To Be Tough Sometimes, Too — Especially when it comes to setting goals for yourself. This is where that delicate balance comes into factor. You have to be able to set goals for yourself that are challenging, but they also need to be realistic. Setting too difficult goals often leads to failure to meet expectations, which we know leads to disappointment, which leads to being pissed off, which leads us to giving up, and so on…No one wants you to be a quitter. Be tough, but be accepting of your limitations, too.
Take a look at Browne’s video for more great advice on how to keep negativity from becoming a road block on the path to improving…
[ via YouTube ]
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