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Perfection Should Be an Aspiration — Not an Expectation
Posted By Jeff Wignall On June 2, 2009 @ 6:06 am In Art of Photography | 3 Comments
Like most photographers, I’m intensely self-critical. I can be absolutely merciless when it comes to analyzing what went wrong or right in my pictures.
And yet, I pretty much hate it when other people critique me. Perhaps that’s why I’m usually more positive and encouraging when I review the photos of others.
When I taught online regularly, I would spend an hour or so writing 500 to 1,000 word critiques of my students’ work. I tended to look for the smart, creative aspects of their photos. Over time, I found that students improved more quickly when I focused on the good things they had done. It gave them something to build on.
Still, when I first download my own images, I can’t help but hammer myself for all of the mistakes I made, or the better ideas that I overlooked. I constantly have to remind myself to spend as much time thinking about what I like about my photos as what I don’t.
Just a Snapshot
The photo below is just a snapshot. I was waiting for a freighter to leave the harbor; this couple walked into the frame, so I shot a quick dozen photos of them. I liked the shot as I was taking it, but I knew it was just a snapshot.
Nevertheless, I took the time to analyze the photo later. Here are some of the thoughts that went through my mind as I looked at it for the first time:
What I Like –
What I Dislike –
Being Your Best Teacher
I wish I had cropped out the oil tanks. I wish I had placed the couple farther to the right. I wish I had thought to snatch the camera off the tripod and take the picture while kneeling down. I wish I had spoken to them. I wish I hadn’t used such a long zoom setting.
Sure, it wasn’t a great photo op to begin with, but every photo you take is an opportunity to learn. If you take the time to do some self-analysis each time you download your photos, you can be your own best teacher.
Self-awareness is everything, I think, in life and in photography. Just be sure to spend as much time focusing on what you did right in your pictures as what you did wrong. Cut yourself some slack; after all, it’s only photography.
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