It’s been a while since my last Deer Hunter article. I’ve had some back issues which meant I’ve been unable to manage the long walks in Richmond Park. In case you need refreshing, Deer Hunter is the title I’ve given to my efforts at recapturing an old image (see below). It’s certainly not a bad one but has some flaws which I find hard to forgive. It’s also a great excuse to regularly venture into Richmond Park (London) and add to my collection of Deer photos. In this month’s article, I want to go over a topic which is rarely touched upon. Failure.
As a new photographer, or a photographer trying something new, it can be very easy to get disheartened. Whether that be receiving negative feedback on a forum, struggling with the learning curve or, and this is a big one, suffering from a severe case of photographer envy.
Speaking from experience, I know how utterly disheartening it can be to pore over the work of other photographers and think “I could never get that!” The sad fact is that no matter where the discouragement comes from the result can often be the same. We give up. We look at the work of others and decide, for whatever reason, that we are not good enough.
Why Does The Work Of Others Discourage Us?
Firstly, let me point something out. Every photographer takes bad photos! As you gain experience and learn new techniques, those instances may become fewer and farther between. Despite that, I guarantee that every photographer, within every genre of photography, has moments where he/she looks at their camera and thinks “what was I doing?” It happens to everyone and is NOT a reason to be discouraged.
Secondly, when was the last time you intentionally put bad photos online? Most likely never. Why would you? Whether you’re new to photography or a seasoned professional, we always want to show our best work. I can’t think of a single instance where I’ve seen a photographer post a bad photo, saying “Look at this rubbish photo I’ve taken. Aren’t I terrible?” Especially for those new to photography, try to keep this in mind when looking at the work of others.
[REWIND: 5 Ways To Bring Your Wildlife Photos To Life]
On the subject, the images you see in this article are what I class as my failures. I do not like a single one (except the second one), but putting my money where my mouth is I wanted to post some “bad” photos. I went on three trips this month, and these were the best, all taken from the same mediocre morning.
Wildlife Photography Is Hard
You may get up at 4am to find your subjects before sunrise (as I did). You may watch the weather and wait for that perfect day. You may study your subject’s habits, where they’re likely to be, etc. You may do everything you possibly can and yet your photos are only worth the digital trash can.
Why? Put simply, you’re working with animals and nature, two things that sadly we have zero influence over. It’s inevitable, even common, that you will go out and return home with nothing. This is not a reason to get disheartened. Wildlife photography is all about preparation, patience, persistence and little bit of luck.
So the next time you catch yourself poring over the work of another photographer and feel yourself getting depressed, stop. Remember everyone, on occasion, takes bad photos. Persevere, learn new techniques and keep shooting.
If any of you have some, which I know you do, I invite you to post a recent bad photo. Let’s celebrate our failures as well as our successes and encourage blossoming talent.