My photos are not as good as I sometimes think they are. Probably, neither are yours. This statement is most powerful when our latest images are transferred from memory card to computer. The photo below, captured this weekend, is such an example. In this image I like how the subject is lit, as well as the sweeping lines of the flyover above. The three areas of green help hold the photo together. However, I am not sure if there is enough in this photo to keep my interest, only time will tell.
I am mid-way through choosing photos for the 2019 Sony Awards. Photos entered must have been captured during 2018. I started with looking at possible entries for the Portrait category. My initial selection of favourites came close to 40 portraits. However, after reflecting on these images, the selection was cut to 10 photos, and then 7 after some discussion. These 7 images were put forward for critique, and were finally slimmed down to two, maybe three images.
There are two other categories I will submit photos for; travel and street photography. For these categories I have 1-2 photos I feel are strong enough for an entry. This means that when I look through all my photos from 2018, there are only six photos I feel are powerful enough to make the cut. My Lightroom catalogue shows I have kept 5698 photos so far this year (and I spend a lot of time deleting weaker images). This means that when I am extremely critical of my own work, only 0.1% of my images leave me totally satisfied.
How does this compare to when I have just come back from a photo shoot? This weekend I went to KR market in Banaglore. I spent two and a half hours taking photos and flagged 10 ‘keepers’. These keepers will probably make it onto Instagram, and one or two will be added to my G+ India collection. However, I suspect that over time none of these shots will make my favourite list. Looking at the photo below, I initially thought it was great. Now, three days later, I still think it is quite good. However, there is a lack of action on the right hand side which will ultimately lead it to going on the ‘not quite there’ pile (I.e. I can’t delete it but it is unlikely anything will ever happen to the image).
It can take a lot of effort to carry out a day’s photography. In the case of my previous outing, I had left the house at 5.30 in the morning, battled with rain and had spent the day before studying off-camera flash techniques. I had a lot time invested in the photo shoot and it was natural for me to want the completed images to be fantastic. This led to an initial over evaluation of what was achieved. As time passes I will forget the pain of getting up at 5.30am, and the images will have to stand on their own merits. Inevitably as time passes I will grow to realise that they were not the set of photos poised to fire me into the world of elite Street Photographers.
As stated earlier, I am extremely happy with 0.1% of my photos. That does not mean the others are crap, they are just not the cream of the crop. I guess for competitions careful selection is a necessity. For Facebook and Instagram the standard does not need to be set so high. After all, who would get any followers if they only posted one in a thousand photos? In addition to this, remember, even the most iconic photographers are only remembered for a few pictures. After all, how many of Henri Cartier Bresson’s photos can you recall from memory?
This train of thought leads me to a number of ways we can grow as photographers:
I can achieve numbers 1-3. However, I get an adrenalin rush when initially uploading photos. Maybe this is a little conceited, or maybe i’m just a photo junkie.
In the meantime, here is one of my 0.1%. I really like it and hope you do as well.
Take Care and Keep Clicking, Chris
Sony allows up to three images to be entered for the World Photography Awards. We all have until January to join the contest. Good luck!