Making excuses for your average photos will not magically make them better, it will only hold you back and prevent you from growing. If you want to be great, you need to kill your excuses.
One of the hardest things when it comes to critiques is hearing not nice words about your photographs. It’s easy when it’s something you don’t like but when you like a photo it is much harder to hear that critique. This is especially true when it is one of your photos as we tend to see our work as better than it is (just like how no parent thinks their baby is ugly). As such it is very common to make excuses for defects.
- The lighting was bad
- He gave me a look which told me not to get closer
- They were moving too fast
and so on and so on. I’m sure you’ve got a whole list in your pocket as well that you can bring out to defend your average photos. The sad truth is…no one cares. Sorry to be blunt but a bad photo is still a bad photo no matter what. If you have sentimental attachment to it then that is fine but don’t expect people to tell you that it is good when it’s not.
So you need to kill your excuses. Not only do they not matter but they will prevent you from improving in the future. (I say this fully aware that I still make excuses).
When someone says “This photo would have been better closer” and you defend it by saying that they were moving too fast or looked too mean, you are really doing two things.
1) saying it is better than it is, lowering your own standards for your work
2) giving yourself a way out if a similar situation arises in the future.
Personally, I think the second is the worst aspect. If you dismiss their point then you won’t have as strong a drive to get the better photo next time. Yes, maybe there was nothing you could do about it for the photo they are critiquing, maybe they were moving too fast, but if you give yourself the excuse, the next time you see someone moving fast you’ll not bother again. If you accept that comment, you’re more likely to push yourself to get the killer photo next time.
Consider the difference between
A) well they were moving away fairly fast so I couldn’t get closer
B) You’re right, it would look better if I was closer, I’ll make sure to do that next time.
Which one are you learning from? Which one is better for the person giving the critique to hear?
I’m not saying this is easy to do but if you want to grow as a photographer, or as a person in general, you (and I) need to kill our excuses. We need to accept criticism where it is justified and work on how we are going to improve.
Are you guilty of making excuses to cover up for bad photos?
Also published on Medium.