Imperfect Shots

You know those big shot photographers kept saying again and again that we should only show our good shots, "edit" our photographs by hiding all the unsuccessful shots. True, for some photographers, how good they are, is only as significant as how well they cut down their shots to show only the best. Nothing against that, but if you keep tucking away your mistakes instead of confronting them, if you keep hiding your weaknesses instead of studying and finding ways to improve, you won't really go anywhere at all. 

In the process of learning, it is crucial to look at failures! Do not be afraid to show imperfect photographs, and we know the Internet is full of "digital junks" instead of real photographs, but it is a process we NEED to go through, in order to get better. Just dig my blog 5 years ago (2 years ago, even), on a random blog post and you will see all my digital junks and failures. I am one of the many photographers who contributed to the photography garbage for YEARS, and it took me that long to move just that few inches further in this neverending journey of photography. Am I ashamed of the previous "failed" shots? It does not really matter, does it? The fact that I did not take them down was because those unsuccessful shots, as lousy and as little artistic value they have held, they were all little stepping stones, bit by bit that helped me to get better and better. They were there to remind me that it took a long time, a lot of effort and going through a hell lot of not so successful shots to LEARN!

Hand-held fireworks. Bad idea. Always bring a tripod for this kind of shooting, and yes lesson learned, the hard way. I was reviewing the Olympus PEN E-P5 and one full session of shooting was wasted because I left the tripod at home. 

Shooting against the light, and how destructive it can be to your photograph!

That is also the reason why instead of just showing my absolute best, I always, always show a series of photographs from each shutter therapy session. Showing a set of photographs can tell a lot more of what is going on than just say, one or two shots. I set myself a target, for a short session, maybe I will show 10-12 photographs, for longer sessions, 20-30 photographs, and yes, among those shown on this blog, many do not really qualify the edits/quality checks. I say, who cares? Those were my photographs, photographs taken by myself, with my own vision, and hands. Those were REAL photographs, and I am damned proud of them. No one can tell me otherwise. 

Photography is a form of expression, one of the more interesting forms actually. Photographs are meant to be shared. Let your photography work be seen, and do not be discouraged to share your passion and art. 


  1. Agreed! I guess the path to becoming a better photographer consists in producing better garbage! :p

  2. Agreed with u Robin..its a long way to be a photographer..we cant jump from A to Z just like that..we must follow d rules step by step to learn n experience each moment that we found..its a learning process to understand what is photography hard to say about it but when we jump into it n take a part on it, then we will know how beautiful d world of photography..each person has a different view with different art of photography..if we need to improve d work of our photography, its a good reason to share our work with d others..we must open our mind to hear d comment from d others..who knows in that comment there are some info that we can use in our world..just look at u know

    1. Indeed, Nik hadi, that we have to be more open minded, and take feedback to help build us up! Everyone has different opinion, I guess that is how we get more perspective and opinion to help us grow. Keep shooting my friend!

  3. Reading your post, I feel how coincident it is with my today’s voluntary assignment, Robin!
    I was asked to document my co-worker’s last day in the office. She was about to resign and today was her last day. I volunteered, knowing that I might learned an insight or two. The person-in-charge required the .jpegs, which gave me more challenges today (no RAWs and post-processing).

    A lesson learned indeed – the hard way.

    Her fellow co-es gave her a surprise, then each of them gave speeches and testimonials about her. It all happened in a dim-lit room with poor lighting, closed windows, and it was a cloudy late noon.
    I bumped up the ISO to 2000-ish in Aperture mode, most of the shots came out blurry due to slow shutter speed.

    Afterwards, we went to the office’s rooftop. Thankfully I brought along the tripod -- and coupled with a golden hour light -- that’s when I felt confident with myself.

    When I submitted the .jpegs to the person-in-charge, he curated the shots and gave me reasons why he collected few select shots. Many of his friends were also there, giving votes which shots worth saving and which didn’t.
    My guess was right: the blurred shots didn’t make it. On the other hand, the ones taken on the rooftop were saved for small scale printing as memories for our dear friend.

    He then pointed out that if I were to shoot in a low-light environment, I should have used manual exposure. At least he understood that I kept on practicing.

    Lesson learned. Not only did I show the shots to the particular person, but also to the entire department.

    1. Hey Angga,
      Constructive feedback generated from your audience was very positive indeed, and we all have something to learn all the time. I am sure you did fine, and yes we always face technical difficulties, and those challenges usually happens in critical situations that caught us offguard! With more knowledge and experience we would be more prepared, and we learn from going through them the first few times around before finding our ways to mitigate the problem and deliver the shots.
      Thanks for sharing!

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  5. "Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential." ~ Sir Winston Churchill. Nuff said :-)

  6. Hi Robin, it's so good to have you back! I hope this means your Mom is doing well.

    I think I disagree with you on this because I think you're combining two different issues. I think you can show only your best work while still studying and learning from your failures. This can be compared to our lives in general too. We try to be aware of our shortcomings while putting our best face forward to the world. We don't meet a stranger and immediately let them know our worst traits and failings! :) No, we keep working to become a better person while hiding our worst from those we meet. Just my humble opinion, of course!

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