Why do bad photographers think they’re good?

Apr 10, 2018

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Why do bad photographers think they’re good?

Apr 10, 2018

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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Someone has just bought their first “good camera” and immediately started “photography business,” proudly showing off their work which is… well, not really good. You’ve all seen these guys and perhaps asked yourself: why do bad photographers think they’re good? In this video, Jamie Windsor explains why this happens, and why people have so much self-confidence before they really master photography. It’s an interesting video, and I think it will make you look at things differently.

YouTube video

This amount of beginner’s self-esteem can be explained through Dunning–Kruger effect. It’s a cognitive bias when people assess their ability as being higher than it actually is. It often happens that a person perceives oneself as being highly competent in a particular area, even though their skills are still pretty low. As they learn more, their perceived ability drops. Here’s a graph that illustrates it:

Before we proceed, keep in mind that everyone is susceptible to Dunning–Kruger effect to some extent. So, don’t feel bad if you feel like you’ve recognized it within you. As Jamie points out, this initial rush of confidence isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When you’re still at the beginning of your photographic journey it can push you forward and help you explore and learn. As a result, you’ll improve your skills. But if you want to gain a more objective view of your abilities as a photographer, here are some steps you can take.

1. Beware of feeling comfortable

When you start feeling comfortable with your work: challenge yourself. Change something and learn something new, that’s the only way to grow. Don’t let yourself stay in the comfort zone for too long.

2. Learn to let go of old work

Try to forget about your old work and stop getting back to it. Instead, try to build on it and move forward.

3. Ask for feedback and critique

Don’t be afraid to ask for critique and constructive feedback from other photographers. There’s an important point to keep in mind, and Jamie didn’t forget to mention it: the critique that gets to you is probably the most important because you know they’re right.

If you post your work to social media, don’t only rely on “likes.” But on the other hand, don’t listen to the internet “trolls” either. Ask for genuine, honest critique from the photographers you appreciate.

4. Always keep learning

Don’t forget: you’ve never learned everything. Photography is constantly changing, so always keep learning and stay informed.

5. Feeling bad about your old work

It’s important to understand that, if you feel bad about your old work, it means that you’re improving. If today you feel a bit ashamed of the old work you once thought was brilliant – don’t worry, it’s a good sign!

Finally, Jamie adds a few more pieces of advice to keep you down to earth and help you grow. Move out of your comfort zone and of fashionable trends. Instead, look at different kinds of photography and expand your views. Also, think about why you’re doing things, not just how to do them. And remember, there’s nothing bad in feeling good about your work, but keep in mind that you should always aim to outgrow yourself.

[Why BAD Photographers THINK They’re Good | Jamie Windsor]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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29 responses to “Why do bad photographers think they’re good?”

  1. Henry Rodgers Avatar
    Henry Rodgers

    As much as one may agree, this kind of article/video is not cool and unnecessary.

    1. Ron Rosedale Avatar
      Ron Rosedale

      The truth hurts… But it once took a friend being honest with me about how bad my photos really were for me to get serious about learning. I’d still be the same terrible snapshot shooter I was if it were not for someones honesty.

    2. James Avatar

      The aim of this video was to provide motivation to people who are feeling down about their work. I’m fairly new to making these videos so I’m appreciative of any feedback on how I could do better. Could you elaborate on why you felt the way you did about this?

    3. Henry Rodgers Avatar
      Henry Rodgers

      The tone of the discussion is more what I’m concerned about. Especially among newer photographers. Tough love is a teaching method, sure. Is it the best? I would strongly argue that it is not in regard to this subject.

      The kind of person who is oblivious to their shortcomings is most likely going to ignore the video or continue to be oblivious.

      1. James Avatar

        How is it tough love?

        1. Random Order Avatar
          Random Order

          I would have to agree. I was going to post a comment that Jamie Windsor is the diplomat of photography. Seriously much nicer than most. He’s a pro and and I was very impressed with how forgiving. I’m learning to be gentler through these types of vids. Coming from the other side of the camer!

  2. Patrick Long Avatar
    Patrick Long

    I agree with the above poster.

    This site used to be filled with awesome tutorials, techniques, and reviews…..now I feel like it’s full of biased articles that contain little to ZERO beneficial information.

    After almost 10 years of loving your site and page, I think this is the last straw and an unlike is in order.

    1. James Avatar

      Jeez. Thanks, Patrick.

      1. Random Order Avatar
        Random Order

        another bad photog bites the dust….

  3. Norman Hayward Avatar
    Norman Hayward

    simple, nobody can take a good critique. everybody gets a trophy, everybody wins, everybody did the best job. Sorry, some of you suck and if you could listen to what others say without crying you’d get better. and the best part is, when we first started most of us sucked. some of us still suck.

    1. Jeff Horton Avatar
      Jeff Horton

      And Critique groups are filled with bad photographers telling bad photographers how great their photo is. I have given up on them, you can’t get a good critique.

    2. Darrell Larose Avatar
      Darrell Larose

      Put up a badly posed, poorly light photo of a semi-clad girl and instant likes..

    3. Ron Rosedale Avatar
      Ron Rosedale

      Jeff Horton That is also like what I see in my area. I live in a small rural area with 100’s of poor quality “professionals” all thinking they are great because their images are just like every other “professionals” in the area. They have every friend, family member, and every other “professional” who all know little to nothing about photography saying how great they are, so they must be great.

    4. Renlish Avatar

      Nobody knows how to give a critique without being cuntish about it in most of the groups I’m in. Tell me how I can fix my photo – don’t question my judgement or put down my apparent lack of skill. There’s an art to giving critiques, most people don’t know how. That makes it more difficult to accept them.

  4. Michael Richard Tran Avatar
    Michael Richard Tran

    Jan Erdl Jan Braun Qibin Wang Eugen Evgenij Beeren Jagodin hier haben wir endlich einen Artikel, welches das endlich ausspricht ?

  5. Jim L Buzard Avatar
    Jim L Buzard

    Because they are taking the best pictures they can.

  6. Albin Avatar

    My Mom read me a Reader’s Digest joke about the young NYC success buying his first boat, and walking into his Mom’s flat in a blue blazer and yachting cap, saying “Mom! Now I’m a Captain!” His mother says “Son, to you you’re a Captain, to me of course you’ll always be a Captain, but … to the Captains are you a Captain?”

  7. Terry Ryder Avatar
    Terry Ryder

    Daniel Egel

  8. Nadine Spires Avatar
    Nadine Spires

    Hmm when I started out I thought I was so bad I quit for 2 years. Then I started again and it took me years before I actually felt like my photos were worth anything. I look at my old photos and feel a little silly about them, not bad, because they show where I started compared to where I am now and that keeps me learning. So isn’t that the opp of what the article says?

  9. Nadine Spires Avatar
    Nadine Spires

    Oh and about those bad photographers. If people pamper egos then those photographers never improve. Take the case of a female who thought she was such a great photographer (blown highlights, bad composition etc) because her followers told her so that she never improved. Why did they think she was great? Because she posted half nude pics of herself as well as sexually suggestive ones and majority of her followers were male.

  10. Jeff Hayward Avatar
    Jeff Hayward

    I must be an ok photographer, because I know when my pics just suck.

  11. Brent Bishop Avatar
    Brent Bishop

    If I really like one of my photos, I become convinced I’m just biased and it’s probably awful.

  12. gtvone Avatar

    Until I heard you say “So they know what work to take on” I hated that someone even had to write / post this article (Sorry, Udi, don’t hate me…) Sure, if you’re talking about a photographer who is charging for their service, not knowing they suck or booking beyond their means – absolutely, but the industry is still full of that person. On the other hand, if you were saying “WHY DO BAD PHOTOGRAPHERS THINK THEY’RE GOOD?” about average Joe or Joanne hobby photographer, well who gets to say who is bad or good ya know. Anyways, as you were.

  13. Gary Sthland Avatar
    Gary Sthland

    I’ve seen a lot of photographers who call themselves professional but I guess they think the sun shines out their arse too

  14. Nevralgeek Avatar

    Anyone think he’s a good photographer if there is a visible depth of field.

  15. Clarence Hemeon Avatar
    Clarence Hemeon

    Great video and article. Thanks.

  16. Andrew Lee Avatar
    Andrew Lee

    I hope my pictures are OK and I avoid getting stressed to get that perfect shot and enjoy the process and experience. Am open to improvements to be better.

  17. Pierre Lagarde Avatar
    Pierre Lagarde

    “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
    … Many think they are way more good at understanding things than Shakespeare was four centuries ago ? :D.

  18. Bipin Gupta Avatar
    Bipin Gupta

    This article is of academic interest, and very theoretical. Today there are no bad Photogs – I don’t mean a college kid whose super rich Parents have given him a $ 3000 Full Frame DSLR with some equally expensive lenses. Most Photographers start of early with good Smart Phone cameras and the basics of Shutter, Aperture, ISO, Depth of Field, Composition etc. They then move up to a DSLR which in themselves have become so technically advanced that most photos – 80% approx will come out well exposed, sharp and peppy. So what other factors remain in control of the GOOD / BAD? Photographer? As one Pro put it COMPOSITION. Add a few more Photography Tips & Tricks and you will soon come to know that there are NO BAD PHOTOGRAPHERS these days. Even a Pro has admitted that to produce just ONE MAGAZINE QUALITY photo he has to take hundreds of shots. Even myself, a GOOD + BAD Photog produce 60% Scrap + 22 % Amateur type Snap Shots + 18 % Keepers. So there is no sense in this nonsense article in today’s smart & technically advanced world, where even kids are born smart and intelligent.