Chances are you have said this to yourself. “All my work sucks”. The sad part is that it probably does. It’s your fault and you need to do something about it starting right now.
Many times as creatives we put ourselves into a box and stare out into the big wide world, scared of being satisfied and far too influenced by the opinions of others. Some of you reading this are just hobbyists trying your best to learn and get better and some of you are professionals who constantly find the need to reinvent yourself to stay relevant. Somewhere along the journey you have felt disappointed with your work and that somehow snowballs into self loathing and fear of not being good enough. STOP IT.
Photography is like any art and the reality is that you decide if it is good enough or not. No one else. No art directors, no clients, not even other photographers. You have to own the work that you shoot. At the end of the day you have to be the one who decides if your work is good or not. It’s all about mindset. I realize that is easier said than done but it really starts with making little changes to your life not just your photography. Don’t internalize the idea of “my work sucks”. You have to look deep inside yourself and love everything that you shoot. Is everything that you shoot going to be amazing and Times Square Billboard worthy? No, probably not.
I want you to do something. Find one of your images that you made you feel like you aren’t good enough as a photographer. Next, grab a piece of paper and a pen. After that draw a line down the center of the paper and write “what sucks” and “what doesn’t suck” on either side of the paper at the top.
Now take a breathe.
This part is important. Take this moment to look at the photo. Really study what you have created.
Now the hard part.
After you have analyzed your image take your pen and write out the things about the photo that you are not happy with. Limit this to 5 things at the most. How is the lighting? How is the composition? How is the pose? Did you shoot it at the right level? Do you have a properly exposed image? Did you get the shot right in camera? Did you forget to adjust the ISO? Think about all of these things as you write. Next, ask yourself these same questions again and fill out the other side of the paper. What doesn’t suck?
You should at this point have no more than 5 things you are satisfied and unsatisfied with about your image.
THIS IS THE MOST CRUCIAL STEP: Take your pen and X out “What sucks” and “What doesn’t suck”, now write “Things I can improve on” and “Things that I am happy with” in their place. I challenge you to make this the last time that you ever look at your work with the mindset that it “sucks”. Stop beating yourself up about your work. It is very unlikely that you will ever find a photographer who is 100% happy with everything they do. But with practice and patience you will see growth. You will see the images that you want to create come to life each time that you pick up the camera.
Don’t be afraid of failure. We ALL fail. All the time.
The next time you pick up your camera I challenge you to challenge yourself. Find just one thing that you can improve on from your previous work and strive to make that one thing better. Once you get that one thing better then move on to the next.
You can always improve.
You can always get better.
Getting better takes one step at a time, one shot at a time, and that first step starts with your mindset. Photography isn’t about likes and comments and follows or beating yourself up. It’s about getting better… everyday.