Monday, February 9, 2015

Learning to Walk

by Terri

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase before that the longest journey starts with a single step. The unfortunate part of life is that sometimes that step will cause you to fall, or you may even find you are walking in the wrong direction. But such things are normal and natural in life, and these are often the experiences that we learn the most from. A baby will fall down many times as he/she learns to walk. The falling down is part of the process of learning to walk, and without it the baby will never learn.
It is the same for photography, from the first day you pick up a camera you will make mistakes. 

You may spend a day shooting only to realize that your camera was on the wrong setting and instead of shooting full size RAW you’ve been shooting the smallest size jpg.

You may take lots and lots of pictures which look good in the camera’s LCD, only to find they are all soft when you see them on your computer screen – you didn’t realize it at the time because you didn’t zoom in on the camera’s LCD to check your focus.

You may leave the house with all your equipment and then find out that you forgot to put a memory card in the camera and that the nearest place to buy one is miles away (I actually just did this yesterday!).
You do an entire shoot outdoors only to find out that you had your white balance set to tungsten from the last indoor shoot you did.

If you speak to any of the great photographers in world, present or past, they will smile and tell you that they made exactly the same mistakes, and many more besides. They will tell you that they often learned more from their mistakes than from their successes. Often when we make mistakes we are too hard on ourselves, and beat ourselves up about how stupid we were, or how foolish we feel. This photographer or that photographer would never do such a thing, but the fact is that we all do.

The truth is that it isn’t about the mistakes you make, but rather about how you deal with those mistakes. If you look at them and work out how they happened, what you did wrong, or what you forgot to do, then it becomes a learning experience – something that will ultimately help you to be a better photographer. 

On the other hand, if you make a mistake and beat yourself up about it constantly it becomes something negative. It will create fear and actually stop you from moving forward. When you encounter a similar situation instead of going in there with a good idea of what to do, you will instead do everything possible to avoid the situation altogether. But being a good photographer is as much about learning what not to do as it is learning what to do. 

And then there are those days when it seems you can do no wrong and everything turns out just the way you want it to. 

But you can’t let that lull you into thinking that you have this photography thing mastered and all your mistakes are behind you.  Without making mistakes we could never become well-rounded photographers, so the next time you make one when you shoot and you feel frustrated, walk around for a while and think about learning to walk. Then, get up, work out what you did wrong and go and try it again.



Dotti said...

Oh, yes! I've done all of these and more. Just when you think you've learned not to forget the white balance ... darned if you don't go and do it again. But I think that's the thing about photography that keeps me engaged: it's an ongoing learning experience. Yes, Photoshop has saved many a day for me but my quest is to become less reliant on PS. That means paying more attention to the little things when I'm shooting. One of my biggest things is forgetting to zoom in to make sure the photo isn't soft. That little LCD screen can lull you into false security. Good reminders, Terri!

Dotti said...

BTW, I love that shirt and mug!

Kim Stevens said...

Oh yes....let's see, went to the sunrise and couldn't find my tripod mount (forgot to double check the night before). Followed all the instructions on how to use a neutral density filter just to see everything blown out - WHAT? I've left with three batteries in my bag to realize I forgot to charge them...or to download the pics from my memory card. Oh the list goes on...and on...but I think when we make mistakes, and forget to check things, it pushes us, makes us who we are as photographers, as humans. We learn patience, and perseverance and hopefully we learn to be live in the moment even though it's not perfect. Love that last shot!

kelly said...

terri this is the best advice. I've done all of these and more. :) it's always such a wonderful reminder to know that photography is a journey and a continual learning process. going to take this advice to heart today. xo

CarolHart said...

Yep, been there, done that... and I'm a repeat offender too! All part of the process! Loved this post today and as I'm getting ready to hit the road for Portland, I will take a moment to pack my camera manual (just in case), check all my camera settings...oh yeah, and charge those batteries!

Barb said...

I like photography a lot, but I really don't get frustrated by my mistakes. Sometimes, errors can actually be turned into something more creative than I originally imagined. However, If photography was my vocation and not my avocation, there would be a lot more pressure toward perfection.

Deanna said...

Oh yes, made all those mistakes at least once sometimes more. Making sure my battery is charged seems to be my weakness, along with white balance and (well I could go on forever). Thanks for all the reminders and I love your images!!

heyjudephotography said...

Oh yes, been there done that. But luckily I make these mistakes less and less. Live and learn. Love those pink flowers!!

Kelly Kardos said...

I almost wish that lcd screen wasn't there!! Perfect post. We need to be gentle with ourselves---and like Carol....repeat offender here too!

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