Attain Success Through Failure

Attain Success Through Failure

Success: An achievement that's marked by prosperity, by the attainment of honors, recognition and the anticipated goal.

Failure: Lack of success.

Quite the explanation for success’s definition and extremely basic for failure’s. But when it comes down to it, if you don’t have success, you fail. Not much more needs to be said. It’s simple—the opposite of success is failure. But, not being one who dwells on the negative, what if through persistence, determination, tenacity, doggedness and perseverance you learn from your failures and turn them into something positive—lots of success. In viewing it this way, it’s good to fail because the inevitable outcome will be success. Learn to celebrate every bad photo you’ve made as you walk the path to make great images in the future.

Attain Success Through Failure

Live in Harmony: When confusion reigns, there’s discord and harmony can’t exist. Confusion muddies the waters and it’s difficult to discern the primary focal point from background clutter. This relates to photography when the main subject is photographed against a background that prevents harmony between it and what dwells behind it. Areas of brightness, dark blobs and jumbled chaos contribute to a photo that looks untidy. Have a look at the photos you’ve made that fit this description and ask yourself how you can prevent repeating the same. Don’t get down on yourself because you have these images; think about what you’re going to do next time you’re in the field so you come back with better ones. Some ways to create images with good backgrounds include opening your aperture to limit the depth of field; using a longer lens as they limit depth of field; being patient and waiting for your subject to move to a cleaner environment; moving your subject, if practical, to an area with a cleaner background; shooting from a low angle as the background will be farther away from the subject; repositioning yourself so the angle changes along with the background; and moving closer to your subject to help eliminate peripheral distractions. If none of these things help, make the shot and think about how you can apply the above next time you head out to make more photos.

How Low Can You Go: The overwhelming majority of photos are made from a standing position. It’s easy, it’s quick and it’s efficient. But how many times have you looked at those photos and thought that something wasn't quite right and you weren’t sure why it looks awkward? Turn all your future images into successes by trying something different and breaking away from the norm. Don’t be like everyone else who raises the camera to their eye and presses the shutter. Get down low to the eye level of your subject. Your images will be more successful because you increase the chance of obtaining a cleaner background, you elevate the status of your subject by being on its level and potential other distractions may be eliminated. Bring along a pair of knee pads to cushion your knees and wear old clothes in case you have to get down and low onto the dirt. Give yourself the opportunity to explore the world from a low angle.

Attain Success Through Failure

Let It Evolve: Don’t be satisfied with one click of the shutter and then move on. Do what I refer to as working the subject. Let the image that’s destined to be successful pop off the LCD. To do so, let it evolve. Every subject you photograph has intrigue or else you wouldn’t raise the camera to your eye. If it’s worth the effort to make a photo, go the extra mile and make sure you come back with the shot. While it may occur that the first photo of any series is the one that screams success, it may also be the one that fails if it’s not the best reproduction of what you saw. Don’t let failure reign supreme. Be sure to cover every option when you’re out in the field. Make a vertical and then make a horizontal. Use a wide setting on your zoom and also a telephoto setting. Get down to a lower angle and then get up high. Out of all the photos you make, one will be the best and it may not be the first image you shot. By covering all angles and possibilities, you will find success!

Visit www.russburdenphotography.com for information about his nature photography tours and safari to Tanzania.

Photography is what motivates me to move through life in a positive way. Photography is ͞All About The Light͟ and it’s the first thing I seek out before I press the shutter. Optimally, I pursue great subjects in great light, but if there’s an ordinary subject in great light, I still press the shutter. I love to share the photographic knowledge I’ve accumulated and I hope my enthusiasm is contagious so I can motivate others to feel the same way I do about my photography.

3 Comments

    Thanks for that, Russ – I’m afraid I’m one of those blockheads who finds it difficult to learn from a blackboard, and has to DO it – MAKE mistakes – TRY something different – for me to learn. Whether it’s in the field of photography or anything else.
    The thing with failure is to spot it yourself – don’t wait for someone else to peer over your shoulder, shudder, and tell you that your photographs are crap. That sets in motion a heap of negative reactions, including resentment, self-doubt, loss of interest & enthusiasm, and – even – trauma, that you won’t ever escape from. (Trauma is a evil weed – once planted, it rarely(if ever) dies – you’re stuck with it for life). To avoid that, we need to develop the ability to appraise our own work. Our own criticisms won’t hurt, like other people’s can (and generally do).
    And by doing that, the rise to the top, and decent photography, becomes much easier and more rapid.

    Jean – Well said and sorry Trauma took root. Hopefully it can be overcome. We all have “ghosts” and hopefully we all can continue to Ghost Bust them. My biggest motivator to get me to where I am today came as a result of a major photo failure. My first trip to the western part of the US resulted in slide after slide of disappointment. 6 weeks of travel and nothing to show for it. I hoped to come back with prize winning images. Rather than get down on myself, I sought the reasons why the photos were awful. I’m still learning today. Those who “think they know it all” never get any farther! Persistence my friend!

    Another “motto” for your article might be the line that the person who has never experienced failure is the person who’s never done anything.
    When I mentioned trauma, Russ, I was thinking of something else. It must have been my subconscious that made me mention trauma here. And yes, there was some. WAY back, I took a photo that was panned by other people, because it wasn’t what they would have done. In fact that’s precisely why I took it – I never wanted it to be what everyone else would have done. They couldn’t see my point of view and I couldn’t see theirs. Their comments hurt. And I guess that qualifies as trauma, because I’ve been very reclusive about my photography ever since – rarely showing it to others, and generally only showing it to people who figured in the photos and wanted a copy.

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