I don’t usually write stuff from this point of view. I’d rather tell you how to improve your pictures. But someone recently pointed out to me that he didn’t know when things were going south for him, so he also didn’t know when they were going well.
That resonated with me a bit so I’m going to share these tidbits in the hope that I don’t offend anyone, but perhaps shake them up enough to want to improve.
It’s important to note that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You may have different opinions, but try to focus on the general idea.
1. Your Photos Aren’t Cutting It if nobody is attacking your work. This will surprise you, but the first sign your photos aren’t cutting it is that nobody has ever told you that your work is horrible. If you stick with safe, plain vanilla photos, nobody will care. If nobody cares enough to complain, you probably aren’t taking enough risks. One thing I really like about trolls is that they can be the best confirmation that I am doing something right. If they are expressing their faux outrage, tell you that you’re doing it all wrong and that your work sucks – congratulations. You’re doing better than you think.
2. Your Photos Aren’t Cutting It if you’re waiting for that next lens, that next camera or that next flash you plan to buy before you get serious about your photography. Some of the most iconic photographs of our time were made with minimal equipment. A few months ago I made salable images in the Grand Canyon area using a $500 Nikon P7000 compact camera. Waiting on gear is a crutch that people use to give themselves an excuse to remain mediocre.
3. Your Photos Aren’t Cutting It if you don’t use your camera at least weekly. People who don’t shoot regularly are very rarely creating special work. The people who pick up their camera nearly every day tend to get the best shots. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Practice is a key component in success in almost any worthwhile endeavor.
4. Your Photos Aren’t Cutting It if you think your Flickr gallery should be getting more views and comments, but you’re not doing anything to earn that traffic and response. Sorry, but you are not entitled to attention. I know this will come as a shock to some of you but you actually have to earn that. If you want to get more comments on your photos, then make photographs that engage the audience. Don’t blame the audience. Blame your own lack of hard work and vision. Don’t stop there – go – get up and do something about it.
5. Your Photos Aren’t Cutting It if you yourself haven’t spent any real time studying the work of other successful photographers. If you don’t care enough about photography to study other shooters’ work, then it’s likely your own work isn’t up to par. Seeing other photographers’ work can open your eyes to new ways to interpret the things you usually photograph.
If you see yourself represented here don’t despair. Recognizing the problem is half the battle. Don’t get mad. Get past it. Improve. Do something about this. It’s all easy to fix, I promise. Anyone who is facing these problems can fix most of them in less than a week. Shoot, move forward and don’t suck.
Sponsored by PMA – It’s not too early to mark your calendar because this is big. For the first time in the USA, the PMA tradeshow and conference will be open to photo enthusiasts – September 6-11, 2011 in Las Vegas. See you there – http://bit.ly/9yaL2I
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