Ah, excuses, excuses… We all make them in all areas of life, and our photography is no exception. However, they’re only slowing us down and holding us back, leading us into an unproductive stage that can last for a very long time. In this video, Justin Mott reflects on the five most common excuses he’s heard from photographers that largely affect their work. Have you made them too?
1. Blaming it on the lack of travel
I’m pretty sure most of us haven’t traveled much, or at all, over the past two years. And if you’re used to traveling, you may use this as an excuse if you haven’t been shooting. But the lack of travel isn’t what’s holding you back. You can shoot in your own country, your hometown, even your neighborhood. You can always rediscover familiar places or discover new ones near you. You need to find a story in your own neighborhood, this way you work on your craft. And you absolutely don’t have to visit exotic places to take good photos.
Sure, everything is exciting in new places, but if you can’t find a story near you, you may not find it in an exotic, remote location. And no matter how interesting the place is, it simply might not work for you. Lastly, you may feel overwhelmed with the new sounds, sights, colors, smells, and atmosphere, which will make you lose focus and take mediocre shots (that happens to me a lot). So, if you really feel like shooting – put your comfy sneakers on and start walking around your hometown.
2. Blaming it on the weather
If you shoot in natural light and depend on it, it may be easy to fall into this trap. But what you need to do is adapt, especially if you do commercial photography. You need to learn how to work with artificial lighting or improve your retouching skills to make the mood in the photo the way you want it.
If you’re a hobbyist like me: if the weather changes, you change your plan. Improvise, adapt, overcome, and don’t get discouraged –you can still take good photos even in bad weather.
3. Blaming it on the gear
It’s nice to have fancy gear, I won’t argue with that. However, it’s not a condition for you to go out and take some great shots. In fact, you can even take magnificent photos with just your phone or a simple point-and-shoot camera.
It’s important to remember that your photos won’t magically become better or more interesting when you buy the latest camera or lens. Gear isn’t going to motivate you to go out and take photos: this needs to come from the inside. As Justin puts it, buying gear is “short-term happiness and long-term debt,” so really consider your motives before buying something new.
4. Blaming it on the “boring subject”
Even if you find your subject or assignment boring, your job as a photographer is to make it interesting. You need to elevate even those “boring,” everyday, plain moments. So, pay attention to details, light, and composition. Having an uninteresting subject isn’t an excuse, especially if you’re paid for your work.
5. Blaming it on the client
Sure, there are nightmare clients and very uncooperative people. But it’s not an excuse to make uninteresting photos or not to make them at all, especially if you’re paid to do it.
As a photographer, you need to understand the assignment and get it done. Also, when the client is unreasonable, you should be vocal about your work. You need to fight for what you do, what you know, and what you believe in. This is the only way to take good pictures and have the client satisfied with the result.
In addition to the five excuses Justin mentions, I’ll add my most common one: “I don’t have enough time.” Indeed, I do need a few hours to prepare my room for a shoot (I don’t own a studio) or drive to a location; to take photos and then edit them… So I often just give it up.
However, I’m learning how to manage my time better, and also use the time I have for photography. When I really don’t have enough time for a complex shoot or edit, I’ll just look around during my daily walk and snap some interesting scenes with my phone. I’m teaching myself to adapt to the conditions and the time that I have, rather than finding excuses and not shooting anything at all.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes that I try to live by: “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” And I hope that you’ll stop making excuses and start doing more of what makes you happy, be it photography or anything else.