I’m only as good as my last shoot

DSC_6746

Any photographer that has seen success will tell you to shoot something for yourself. If you do it enough, people will begin to notice that work and start hiring you to shoot more of what you love.

On my quest to do more editorial and commercial work, I decided to give myself an assignment a few weeks ago. I mapped out seven different images I wanted to create. Since then I’ve done nothing with it.

Today I finally had one of those moments where I just had to get up and shoot something, so I decided to work on the project. I had one image in mind to start with. After working for about an hour I didn’t get it. I ended up with the one above instead. I know why I didn’t get it. It was the wrong time of day to get the look I was going for and I didn’t leave my front yard. I really need a place with a clear view of the sky and no houses around. So I failed to achieve exactly what was in my head. Even though I know why that was, it has bothered me all night. And looking at my schedule I’m not going to have time to reshoot for another week or so. Which means it will bother me for a week or so.

This brought to the forefront something I’ve always felt. I’m only as good as my last shoot.

Like most other creatives, I’m very insecure. Or am I the only one? Crap, there’s the insecurity again. I can have an amazing shoot. Let’s look at the photo below as an example.

Michael Torres

I went into this shoot with Michael with this exact shot in mind. Down to the last detail, this is what I pictured when I scouted the location. And I got it. I rode a high from that shoot. I saw that there might just be hope for me to really make a living as a photographer.

And then I stumbled tonight. And I feel like a hack in danger of being outed as a hack. I know I’m constantly improving. I have a body of work that I’m starting to have a little pride in. I feel like I’m growing as a photographer and trying new things.

And yet, I can’t shake the feeling tonight that I’ll never gain any traction in this business. I’m really not fishing for compliments. I just recognize something I’m struggling with and I like to publicly examine that and see if others face the same issues.

So, do you?

Comments

  1. Kandy says

    i disagree with “I’m only as good as my last shoot.” Now I’m not a photographer, but applying this to life/careers/motivation/creativity, I think we all have ups and downs. Just because we did something “better” in the past, doesn’t mean we’re on a downhill slide. In fact, I believe that in our down times, we can gain a stronger grip on what we need to learn, and the motivation to do it. No mountains without the valleys…

    • says

      See, that’s always been my problem. It’s not that I’m on a downhill slide. It’s that one bad shot erases all past work and all I have is one bad shot. And one good shot eclipses all past work and all I have is success.

      I’m not saying it’s logical. :)

      • says

        OK, I’m jumping from my comment to this one…

        I do this too. So you are only as good (or bad) as your last shot. You want to (in your own opinion) get to the point where you are satisfied with every shoot you do. Maybe at that point you won’t feel like a hack.

        You’re not a hack, BTW.

  2. says

    Yes, yes, yes!

    I agree completely, especially with “I feel like a hack in danger of being outed as a hack”. Wow, I know how you feel.

    Every day I battle these same feelings, every time I get a shot I like I ride the high and every time I suck…in my head I really really suck. I figure if I’m super hard on myself though it helps me improve.

    I’ve been in those “I’m going to shoot something, anything” situations before and I learned not to succumb to them as I found they just lead to failure and shots I don’t like. Planning, preparedness….those are essentials for me.

    Cheers

    Paul

    • says

      I agree on the planning side. I don’t think I’ve ever just “gone out for fun” without any prior planning and created something I liked.

      Here’s to life in Hacksville. We might as well learn what we can.

  3. says

    You are entirely to critical of yourself. You are a really amazing photographer, and in your heart you know that. You just tend to let your brain get in the way. Are you saying that people aren’t allowed to have bad days? Because I could show you about a billion examples of really amazing people that aren’t “amazing” every day. Only imagine the stress. :) So….You are really just letting yourself have some down time when you have an off day.

    Love you. :)

  4. says

    Yep.

    It’s funny how a misbehaving child that caused me to get almost no really good shots makes me feel like I’m a horrible photographer. Even worse when the parents attributed the few good shots to my skills. It took me months before I would even book another family shoot.

    So yes, I know what you mean. But hear this. You are a great photographer and have been one I’ve looked to for inspiration and guidance for a couple years. Discouragement is a tool the enemy uses to distract us from the plan God has for us. When you know you’re good but don’t feel it, it should be confirmation that you’re doing good. We both know God has plans for you and He will increase your business according to His will and your willingness to follow Him. So do that. Follow Him when it doesn’t make sense and you can’t control it. It’s there that we really find Him – when faith is all we have to go on.

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