“Failure is not an option” How often have you heard these lines in films. We cannot fail and onwards they march overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles in search of the final goal. The obstacles are overcome normally by some devious and unfeasible deed where someone comes out a hero, dies or some other nonsense which we all ignore being caught up with the stupendous special effects. Not so much the story.
In practice, failure is not an option but in reality, it is a very large part of life. Not doing something quite as well as you thought. Making mistakes, large or small, are the very essence of life. While it may be said if you don’t make mistakes you aren’t trying, I would suggest they come along anyway, regardless of effort, they are just bigger with effort.
They are the fabric of learning.
We need to fail
In photography, they are not only the fabric but a fundamental part of learning. If an image is out of focus you retry until it is right, or you find your own style of working. The initial images are failures. They may be under or overexposed there may be movement in the image they may not be composed exactly to how you would like them, but they are all steps on the journey to not failing. It is said that the only difference between an amateur and a professional photographer is the consistency of the latter. This comes from failing, not once but time and time again, and learning each time until the standard of each shot improves then you get one or 2 special ones eventually your run of the mill will improve, and the standard goes up. Your consistency goes up.
Some may say this is practice. Yes, it is but just practice won’t make you better, failure will. Unless you fail you will not know where you are going wrong, and you could end up practising the wrong thing and think you are OK when you’re not. Maybe you are photography is a subjective thing. There is no right or wrong just a set of vague guidelines. This means your mistake could be my “that’s a good shot” or vice versa.
It can be that failure is your style in the eyes of other people.
In the grand scheme of things, whether you call it a mistake or failure, it is essential and is not an option. It is a learning opportunity. The key thing is not to allow it to colour your enjoyment of going out and taking an image. Get out with your camera. Take loads of rubbish. Look at them and consider how you would do things differently. If this means going back to the same shot several times and trying because you think there is something there. Then that’s exactly what you do, go back. Look at the results and think how you would do it better, differently, and try again.
Failure only becomes an issue when you give up. When you stop trying.
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