Nobody likes to hear that we’re failing, especially in something as subjective as art. But most of us feel like we’re failing at photography at least some of the time. Even many of the most successful photographers out there still see themselves as a failure for some reason at some point. But spotting the causes of why we might feel this way can be difficult.
In this video, Marc Newton at The School of Photography talks us through three of the biggest reasons that cause photographers to fail. Don’t worry, though, because he also provides some great info to prevent it from happening in the first place.
0:54 – There’s always an excuse
This is one that many of us are guilty of, particularly when we’re new. We’re so afraid of failing that we make up excuses to put off shoots that scare us. If we don’t do it, we can’t fail, right? Well, that itself is failing. How many of us have said, “I don’t have the gear to shoot that” and then passed on the opportunity? I know I have. In the real world, it’s not our gear letting you down most of the time. We just need to learn to adapt to the gear we have and overcome.
If we keep coming up with excuses that prevent us from taking risks with our photography, we’re never going to push our abilities. Failing is how we experiment, learn and improve. People were shooting the kinds of images long before the technology existed that lets us do it today. Your gear is not holding you back.
2:58 – Lack of effort
This one certainly isn’t going to apply to everybody, but certainly to quite a few. Even with all of today’s technology, and cameras that pretty much shoot themselves, there’s still a steep learning curve. Sure, cameras now make it almost impossible to miss your focus – even Panasonic – and they can nail your exposure spot on in auto mode with stabilisation good enough to conquer and earthquake.
But you still need to learn composition, lighting and storytelling. Cameras can’t tell you where to stand, what to point the camera at or how the light looks. At least, not yet on the last one. Pretty sure AI will figure that out in our smartphones within the next couple of years. Even once you do know what you’re doing, you have to put in the effort to actually make plans, pack your camera bags and go out there and shoot your thing. No matter how good we get, there’s always more to learn and things on which we can improve.
4:24 – You’re still a beginner
This kind of follows on from the last point I made above. No matter how long we’ve been doing photography or how well we’ve been doing it, there is still so much to learn. Even the most knowledgeable of photographers would consider themselves a beginner compared to the overall amount of photography knowledge that’s out there.
Dunning-Kruger is rife in the photography community. Five minutes on some well-chosen Facebook groups will confirm that. Our biggest mistake is often assuming we know everything when we, in fact, know very little. Photography seems a straightforward topic when we first look at it. Point, shoot, how hard can it be? I already said it once. There’s still a steep learning curve, no matter what some companies might lead you to believe in their marketing materials.
The video goes into a bit of an advert for the school after the third point, but all three points are very valid. Understanding where and how we’re failing is the first step towards fixing it. If we know about our potential failure points and can do something about them, then that reduces the risks of us actually failing. So, we improve, get better, and fail less.
But even if you do fail. Don’t see it as a setback. See it as a learning experience. Another challenge to overcome on your journey.