That’s an odd title for a blog post, especially when it comes to photography.
This has been an odd week for me in that I haven’t had to travel for work. As a result, I’ve had access to all of the images I’ve shot over the past year and a half (I store everything on a RAID 5 array – If you really want to know what that means you can ask me in the comments). I took some time to review most of them – or at least the ones that I had “flagged” in Lightroom. Generally, a “flag” is something you’d put on a picture that you think has potential – kind of like a book mark to come back to this one day when you have more time.
Anyway, I got really pissed off as I was going through them. The subject matter wasn’t anything upsetting by any stretch as I generally have shot wildlife, landscape, travel, and the like. What has me upset is as I look through these pictures, specifically of the ones from Costa Rica, I’m pissed because they suck. Sure, I got a handful of decent shots, but now I realize that most of the pictures I flagged are terrible, and I can’t really say I want any of them printed out and displayed in my house (except for perhaps some hummingbird shots). I’m not even sure I want to show them off to my friends, whether or not they know the difference between a Nikon and an iPhone.
I did the photo tour in Costa Rica one year ago this month. To be honest, I was still new to photography. Yes, I knew what aperture was and what shutter speed did, and I even knew about exposure compensation, depth of field control, and any other primary principle you can think of. Despite this, there is a difference between knowing (book smart) and doing (street smart). It was kind of sensory overload for me…It was the first time I was really “dedicated” to photography – It was 12 days of non-stop shooting and I saw things I never had before seen. I was being presented with a myriad of great photo subjects, and lots of instruction of advanced concepts that I probably was not ready for.
In hindsight, I realize that it was foolish to have expected anything tangible out of the trip. I might not have gotten the images I wanted, and you can bet I want to go back and try again…and I will soon! But, what I did get out of the trip was an appreciation for what goes into great photographs. And, I got a foundation that I can use to judge my work as I continue to pursue the craft. That makes the trip a success, I hope!
So back to the title…I really hope this feeling of “I totally suck” is normal as an amateur photographer. I would love to read something on Google+ from Brian Matiash or Moose Peterson that they felt this way back when they were getting started. I know it is senseless to expect anything close to perfection, but I need to remember not to look at specific photos and ask “What the hell was I thinking”. Instead, I need to take that photo, compare it to something recent, and say “What have I learned?”
If I can do that, then hopefully I can achieve the symmetry and consistency I’m hoping for as a photographer.
Speaking of symmetry, here is a shot from about a month ago. I like this because it is a good example of getting a cool looking shot in the most mundane of places. This is the underpass of an interstate highway, around LaSalle, IL.