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How Embracing Failure Can Improve Your Photography Skills


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Most of us don’t aim to fail at what we do.


We don’t usually plan for failure or celebrate failure yet failure often comes our way.


As children we were taught to cope with inevitable failure, to embrace failure as part of the learning process.


But in reality that didn’t always make failure any sweeter. We still hoped for success and failure was inevitably a disappointment.


I am going to suggest that in photography we discover that failure is not always something negative. In fact, in photography, failure can be turned into success.


Here are 5 reasons why embracing failure can improve your photography skills. You will probably think of many more.

 

1.   FAILURE PROVIDES LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES


Failure presents us with learning opportunities. It gives us a chance to notice where we have gone wrong and to rectify our mistake next time. There’s a saying, ‘failure is our best teacher'. In photography it’s true.


2.   FAILURE ENCOURAGES COMMITMENT AND INCENTIVE TO IMPROVE


Failure can prompt us to decide we're no good, we'll never make a photographer, we might as well give up now,

OR

failure can bring out our determination, our commitment to our craft, our dedication to improving our skills and to not letting initial failure define our future as photographers.


3.   FAILURE DEVELOPS OUR ABILITY TO SELF-CRITIQUE


Rather than see our ‘failures' as disasters, we can turn them into opportunities to hone our self-critiquing skills. We can examine our images to see what we have done right as well as what we have done wrong and use the information to make adjustments next time we are taking photos. We might find that there is a commonly occurring mistake –


Do we always over expose?

Do our images often lack a clear subject?

Do we get our compositions wrong?


By examining our work in this way we can gain valuable information that will help us move on in our photography journey.


4.   FAILURE ALLOWS US TO BECOME MORE DISCERNING


Seeing some of our images as failures may ultimately be a good thing. It shows that we are not easily pleased, that we are not happy to just produce any old image, that we want to aim to create the best image that we can create.


As we begin to create more and more images we will more easily accept the failures for what they are, part of the process, and become willing to discard them and move on.


5.   FAILURE POINTS TO OUR FUTURE SUCCESSES


We can often be our own worst critics. We can sometimes see failure where another might see success, or at least they might see the potential for success. That’s why it’s worth taking a chance with some images and not discarding them immediately. Ask yourself,


is there anything I like about the image?

Could some editing help?

Should I save it and look at it again with fresh eyes?


I have often looked back at older images, taken them into lightroom, made some adjustments and realised they weren’t as bad as I had initially thought.


Your future self might thank you when you find a hidden gem that you once dismissed as a failure!


FINAL THOUGHTS


It can be disheartening to come home with a set of images and realise that we don’t like many, if any of them.


It has happened to me many times.


But failure really is just part of the process in photography. It doesn’t mean that we are failing as photographers, just that some of our images do not reach our own high standards.


We can learn to live with our failures, even embrace them and turn them into successes.


And remember, even if our photographs don’t come up to scratch on any given day we still reap the benefits of being out with our camera, getting fresh air and exercise, observing the world around us and having fun capturing some images.


You might like to watch this video from Irish photographer Darren J Spoonley called,



Darren’s video is an enjoyable presentation with well described tips for avoiding common photography mistakes.


I hope you enjoy it.

 

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