Shoot any bad photos recently?

Yes? Don’t feel alone, everyone takes bad photos. Even the pros. No matter how good a photographer you are, and no matter what you’re shooting, the truth is that you’ll end up with more bad photos then good ones. Even if you were shooting a rugged looking ski model carving perfect turns in epic powder through the aspens at sunset, and even if you had nothing but a bag full of pro gear, I can guarantee you, every shot won’t be great.

In fact, some of those shots will plain suck, but take this to heart. If they didn’t, you’d never get better.

Photography is all about experimenting. You come up with an idea, throw in some specialized equipment and put forth some effort to capture it in the most original and creative way possible. Problem is that no matter how hard you try, some of your ideas just aren’t going to work. Does that mean that they’re bad ideas? Not, it just means that under the circumstances, you need to move on and try something else.

The mantra to all of this is that you can’t let yourself get discouraged if you aren’t getting the good shots right away. In fact, if you nailed your subjects on the first try every single time, you wouldn’t be spending much time experimenting and pushing your creativity. The consequence to all of this is that you won’t grow very much as a photographer or an artist.

Even if you’re struggling and don’t nail your shots every time, keep clicking the shutter, eventually your process will pay off and you’ll get something great. The not-so-big secret in the photography world is that even the best pro shooters burn through thousands of frames before they get the one good shot that graces the cover- you know, that one beautiful picture that clearly illustrates their mastery of light, color and framing? It was probably chosen from a collection that has more photos in it that there are words in this blog post.

It’s not uncommon for an photographer to shoot a thousand or more images on an assignment that will, in the end, produce the handful of amazing shots that appear in the magazine. That’s right, a handful. What about the rest? That’s called editing, the process which reminds us that no matter who we are or how many years of experience we have under our belts, we still make mistakes. We still miss the shot. We still botch the lighting. We still forget to change the aperture. We still blow the framing. And most of all, we still click away when the subject and lighting are not where they need to be in order for the shot to go BANG!! Only those aren’t the ones that we see in the mags, those are the ones that get thrown away.

We all strive to push our limits with our photography in hopes of getting a few really compelling shots, and yes, we all try certain methods and techniques that don’t always work. However, that’s how we learn, adapt, and grow our skills, which will, eventually allow us to make better photographs.

In the end, photography is not about the success rate or how many good shots you get from a session. What matters is if you get that one great image which tells the story and communicates the message of your own excitement and feelings about the scene. So again, don’t get discouraged if you’re not getting the shots you want, it probably means that you’re not shooting enough. Keep coming up with ideas, keep burning through frames and sooner or later, you’ll see the quality of your imagery rise to meet your own expectations, as well as the excitement of your audience. 


Don’t Get Discouraged, Everyone Takes Bad Photos — 1 Comment

  1. This is such a great reminder Dan. I often find that I have entire days when I can’t make a good image. In fact just the other day Ray and I were out in San Diego and all my images totally sucked. I mean they were really bad. I said “I give up” and Ray said “just keep shooting anyway”. And guess what, all of a sudden my images started getting better. I guess the pressure was off and I had the freedom to keep making sucky images and they suddenly got better!!

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