Photography horror – resolve three personal issues

Photography horrors :: The pressure is on to get the images right on a wedding shoot!

The pressure is on to get the images right!
Photography horror will get you if you let it.

These three horrors can help you

“Photography horror” is not necessarily bad news. If you are truly horrified over your work, you have been given a unique gift. Learning to recognise the issues is important. It is a sign. It points at future goals. Your photography horror is a way to see a problem you can fix.

Photography horror 1: This is awful. I know I can do better

Great. You have seen your mistake. Now you will try to avoid it next time. Or, you have seen there is a mistake. You are not really sure of the problem. However, further analysis will help you improve your shots.

Both of these are really good news. Of course you are disappointed. But think about it. You either know the problem, or have a subject for research. Once you have found the problem then you can fix it.

Making images is like any other pursuit. You only get better if you put in time to improve. If you can quickly spot the mistake, kick yourself and move on. If you don’t, start to look for ways to resolve it. You might need to do some reading. Look at similar images and ask, “why are they better”? Try discussing with a friend. Consult with an artist. Join a photography club. Read a book… All of these options help you understand this photography horror.

What’s the most important thing? It’s that pit-of-the-stomach feeling you felt. This is your senses telling you that you can do better. Learn to recognise it. Your “photography horror” is a new found friend. Use it to improve.

Photography horror 2: All my work is terrible!

Wow – big statement! But, we have all been there. This photography horror just flattens our ego. It might apply to all the shots in a shoot. It could be a whole day of negative shots. Worse still, it might reflect weeks of bad outcomes. You feel like you are in trouble. And, photography horror seems to ooze out of everything you do.

What is going on? Why is this feeling so crushing? Again, this is your inner sense of “photography horror” helping you out. However, this one has the scope to stop you dead. You cannot see a way out of it. You are trapped. It is the ultimate photographers block. Recognising it is easy. You just don’t want to pick up your camera. You want to walk away from making images and forget the whole thing.

OK, do it! Yes, take a break from your image making. But, the way out of this particular photography horror is planning. Plan to take the break for a specific time. Set goals for start-date and start-activity. Work out specific things to try and get right for your return date. Then, forget the whole thing. Just sit back and take a deserved rest.

You have reached a fill-up point. Your ideas, creative juices, skills and knowledge have simply saturated you. The result is a jumble of ideas, concepts and knowledge. You need time to sort this lot out.

This feeling of photography horror is all about being over-whelmed. Given time, and a little subconscious thinking you will begin to put it all together. Plan for a week off. Or, maybe take two. But don’t take more than a month. You risk losing it all if you take too long.

While you are on your break the feeling of impending doom will lessen. Instead, you will find yourself thinking of the things you can do when you get back to your goals. Take the time. Relax. Then, when the planned date is here – get back to your task with new enthusiasm.

Photography horror 3: These images are terrible!

The chips are down. You have to produce something. A family party perhaps? Or maybe you are doing a wedding for the first time. Whatever, the pressure is on. You open the images in the editor and… Oh no! Doomed!

This photography horror strikes us all at some time. It seems like what you have done is the worst ever.

It is about fear. The unknown, coupled with pressure, gets to you. When we have to do things for other people it piles on the pressure. This is a familiar worry for wedding photographers. It’s a worry for most professional photographers at some time in their career. Amateur photogs are equally likely to suffer. It all hinges on the need for good results. When taking pictures for yourself you don’t have that pressure. When the pressure is on, worrying about it gnaws at your soul. By the time you get to the editing screen you are nearly screaming with anticipation. With that tension almost anything appears disappointing. You will hate your work. And, you will feel devastated.

The problem is gaining perspective. With this photography horror your expectations exceed the possible. It is time to be realistic.

Start processing straight away. When you begin to do something practical things get easier. You will quickly see that you can actually use the images. Work with them. Process them. Do the things you know are possible. Use all your processing skills, work with the images. Express yourself. Before long you’ll see this photography horror is about focus. Editing out the bad. Selecting the good. Working with the images to bring out the best in them.

Behind all photography horror…

More often than not, photography horror is about personal confidence. Doing practical things to move forward helps build that confidence. It gets you past the terror, the nerves and mixed up feelings. Always have a plan for improvement. Make sure you have enough free time to break the bonds of your commitment. Give yourself time to think.

You will find that your feelings of “photography horror” are really useful. They tell you when things are not right. They guide you to make improvements and move forward. They are the way to become a great photographer.

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

2 responses to “Photography horror – resolve three personal issues

  1. Had to laugh as I know there’s been times when folks have tried to lift my spirits by saying one of those “terrible shot- I know I can do better images” isn’t really that bad. But sage advice here because life isn’t always smooth sailing and giving yourself permission to take a break helps to refresh your way of thinking. Enjoyed this one!

  2. doesn’t this just ring a bell!
    I’ve all od]f the above , and as I limp my way towards an LRPS Advisory day , definitely feel all my pictures are inadequate, Keep trying to convince myself that the clue is in the title ADVISORY , not examination , Head knows it , heart doubts it,