#fail, workshop-style…Posted: April 24, 2013
Ever fail as a photographer? If your answer is no, either you don’t push yourself hard enough or you’re lying to me (which is a bit weird, since we’re online and I wouldn’t even know what you answered right?).
I’m sure all of us have thrown out more than a few GB of failed images. Ideally these failures don’t occur during key moments (although they do), when you’re being paid (for some reason money doesn’t seem to halt failure), or you’ve taken enough other shots to cover your a** (fingers crossed!).
During my first ever photography workshop I failed at a key moment and didn’t take enough photos to cover myself… oops!
How the #fail occured
It was the end of the workshop and I wanted to get a group shot. We were walking on the south side of the Yarra River in Melbourne. It was dark, getting into the blue hour.
FYI – I hate direct flash
Since we were outside, there was no ceiling to bounce my flash off. I quickly looked around and came up with a solution that could work. I saw an angled bit of (fairly) neutral grey cement wall that I could use. I pointed my flash backwards and took the photo.
What #failure looks like
So was my flash idea ill-conceived? Nope. The lighting was great, exposure almost perfect. Too bad exposure is only one variable in a successful photo.
Focus is another. This is where I failed. The camera’s autofocus decided to focus on the other side of the river rather than the 5 people right in front of it…
What I learned (#dontmakethesamemistaketwice)
Firstly, whenever possible check the exposure AND the actual focus of the image on the LCD screen. I actually do this most of the time, but this time I saw the correct exposure and as a small thumbnail, the focus looked bang on. I made an assumption and it bit me in the a**.
Secondly, if I had reframed, refocused and taken a couple more shots, the likelihood that I would have had a properly focused photo would have gone up.
I was pretty embarrassed when I got home and saw the full sized image on my computer. How could I, the “professional photographer” making such a rookie mistake? After beating myself up for a while I reminded myself that even professionals are humans and make mistakes. I thought that sharing my failure with the group (rather than just finding an excuse not to share the image) was the right thing to do.
It became a final lesson for those workshop participants: Don’t let failure discourage you, it is just another stepping stone on the way to greatness.