Learning from Bad Photography

 My photography has come a long way since I shot this image!

My photography has come a long way since I shot this image!

     It is important to fail. We all have taken bad images before. Everybody has done something cringe-worthy in their processing one time or another. Nobody has a perfect portfolio of images that they love from years prior. It is part of the process of becoming a better photographer from one year to the next!

     At the beginning of your photography journey you will take these snapshots you think are amazing. It might be a viewpoint that says “photography opportunity” on a sign or map. They will be jpegs or poorly processed RAW files that look gaudy to a trained eye, but family and friends will encourage you saying the photos are “so good, you should be a photographer”! It is all very exciting and it should be.

     There is a point though where you realize certain parts of those photos don’t really work. The image might be incorrectly exposed, the saturation is too high, the composition doesn’t work, or whatever else that makes you want to improve upon your last attempts. Each image you take slowly gets better and your standards will keep getting higher for what qualifies as portfolio work.

 Images like this have moved on from my portfolio over time because they don't fit my newer work.

Images like this have moved on from my portfolio over time because they don't fit my newer work.

     As the bar gets placed higher, you will start to see how far you have come. Images taken years and months earlier will drop off the portfolio as they start to look out of place among newer and stronger work. The bad work you have done defines you in a weird way. The bad/dissatisfying things you did in the past are shown in the portfolio as what you can’t see. You are left with what you see as the ideal imagery to represent not only good photography but also your vision of what defines you as a photographer.

     Year after year you are left with just the good stuff from what you did prior. The images that you want to create more of and that you connect with. They speak to you on a creative and technical level attesting to how far you have come. The bad photography has taught you what not to do through the experience of creating it and not wanting to continue creating bad images. So, go out there and make bad images. When you are done doing that make them better!