Avoid Discouragement

Last week, one of the remarks I got about the sites I listed for browsing was that the photos were so good that it made this viewer want to put his camera in the closet.  Another person within earshot said he understood that feeling.  I never thought of the possibility that those sites could create discouragement. After a little more discussion, we figured out a surprising error in their reasoning.  They never considered a simple truth: excellent photographers make crudloads (a technical term) of bad photographs.  You just rarely see them because they only display the good ones.  The only times you'll see their bad stuff is when you are with them at the time they make them or when they use them as teaching tools.

Not even the best photographers come upon a scene, shoot one photograph, and walk to the next killer location to shoot one frame, and so on and so on.  I've seen famous photographers shoot an awful photograph or completely miss the shot.  They do it much less often than a beginner, but that is true in every endeavor.  Experience usually wins in a competition with inexperience.  You should slow down and plan your photos more carefully.  Think through what you're trying to do, and your keeper rate will get better.

In the filmstrip below, I found a position at the train station I liked before the train arrived.  I used some composition to put the travelers where I wanted them and shot as the train approached.

film strip of train approaching

The last shot was the best one and the only one I spent any time on.  It has many of the things we talked about in the composition blogs, last month: leading lines; rule of thirds; horizon properly placed; and a familiar pattern.

Waiting for the train in Culpeper, Virginia

When experienced photographers approach a scene, they not only take more than one photo, but they vary their approach to the scene.  They shoot vertical and horizontal aspects; take  the photo from different angles; vary the shutter speed and aperture; tilt the camera; move in close or back away.  They will keep going until something on the back of their camera satisfies them.

filmstrip of fishman

Fisherman in Back Bay, Virginia Beach, Virginia

So, don't get discouraged when you browse through good photography from others.  Figure out what you like about it.  Learn from it.  And strive to make your photos look better.  Never compare your work directly with someone else's work.  Compare your work to what you did a year ago.  If you are seeing improvement, you are on the right path.

stacked whiskey barrels