Failing Upwards...

One of the biggest fears we face when starting anything new is failing, right? Photography is no different, what if we are no good, what if we just don’t ‘get it’, what if people don’t like our photos, what if we cannot offer anything unique or special? So we fear failing, for some of us it is crippling, so much so we put down the camera. For me the camera is just an extension to myself, I feel lost without it, but it wasn’t always so.

But what if there was another way to look at all this? Failing Upwards…it’s not a new idea, but it does not have to be random either. I tell my students in classes and workshops, to just have fun, make mistakes, glorious mistakes and learn from them. Play with random settings, or be intentional in their use in ways you have never dared to try. What’s the worst that can happen? The world will NOT come to end because of one crappy image. Use each image as a sketch for what may be possible. Don’t stand in the same spot and take 10 photos and make no changes and expect the photos to be different, you need to move, try different angles, different heights, different settings, and different lighting. It’s when you make small subtle changes, each getting you closer to ’something’…ultimately you may not know what that is until you see it. Often when you let yourself be free, really free to play, you can ‘feel’ it. To some this may sound a little airy fairy, but to those who have been in ‘the zone’ you KNOW what I am talking about. The biggest risk takers get the biggest payoff. I am not saying to take crazy risks with life and limb and camera gear, or that you will make a million dollars off a crazy weird image…but you may just feel really good about your photos and your growth if you step a little outside your comfort zone…just a little at a time.

Once you let go of the fear of failing, something interesting happens, you often feel the need to experiment, to play. Little bits of insight and A-HA moments can happen. Where once perhaps, you thought you were a talentless hack, you now begin to see a creative vision? You begin to wonder What If?  Sometimes you need a little help to get your Muse to show up, sometimes it is quiet solitude you require, or perhaps music to spark your creativity and imagination, I am a little of both, frequently with Still Life I listen to classical music, or soft soothing Celtic music. Other days it is just simple quiet I crave, to let me mind wander. Sometimes I feel like sitting in early morning light with a coffee and see what ‘talks’ to me in the studio, other times I have snapshot images and copious amounts of notes. Each are valid and each work, you need to find you own ‘zone’ .

So next time you are feeling frustrated and that you are just not getting the shot you see in your head…get OUT of your head and PLAY, often you may not find what you thought you were looking for, sometimes it is BETTER!

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