Have you ever tried something and failed? If you’re human then I already know the answer (sorry perfectionists) and, more often than not, we work very hard to minimize and hide our failures while emphasizing and exploiting our successes. We don’t like to be embarrassed or allow our flaws to show as judgement is often swift and sure, especially these days. It can be very hard to pull the veil back and allow friends to see our failures but strangers?

I recently experienced failures that led me to be pretty disappointed in myself but, rather than hide them, I want to use them to propel my growth. That’s the thing about failure that so many motivational speakers talk about: success is born out of failure. I’ve heard many variations of the story of Michael Jordan missing thousands of shots in order to become the player he was. Malcolm Gladwell wrote that it takes 10,000 hours in order to have success in any endeavor (Outliers, 2008) but that was later rebutted to say that it takes that much time to be “above average.” So, in essence, the more time you put in and challenge yourself the more opportunity you have to possibly become proficient.

Lack of focus for Jewelry table

Well, I went out Saturday night to practice night shooting at an event called Flea By Night at Discovery Green. I wanted to put more time into using my flashgun for photographing events and knew ahead of time that I would be taking a lot of shots that wouldn’t necessarily be “good.” With that said, I ended up seeing two really great artists whose work I wanted to capture and asked both if I could photograph their work. I went about taking shots as quickly as I could so that I wouldn’t be in the way of customers and others walking the booths while not lingering around too long.

Lack of focus and bad angle for Jewelry table

The first table was for custom jewelry by Miranda Blair and these two photos are the only ones that I was able to take. I was really hopeful that I was able to capture the shots, and they looked good in my LCD, but I realized that I was had the aperture set too low for what I wanted to do looking at them on my laptop. I really wanted to showcase her jewelry and blur the background around her designs but the setting I used blurred out more than I wanted. I should have used a larger aperture to have more depth-of-field but I was trying to not use my flash and wanted to get as much light as I could. Yes, I could have adjusted my ISO but I wanted to see how I would do having to take photos quickly and get the settings down quickly. Well…

Poor focus on a product table

Later, I saw a really cool booth by Ruben Salazar who creates framed art featuring insects (like butterflies, moths, etc). Mind you, I was under the same constraints as I was at Miranda’s booth so I fired off a few shots and here are the results. I liked the composition in this photo, because I thought the frames on the table, with the few in the background blurred, would bring some depth and let the viewer know that there was more available. The problem is, I got the focus close to where I wanted but didn’t realize that his business cards weren’t in focus as well.

Poor composition for product wall

Finally, for this photo, I don’t care for the composition. I wanted to get a good shot of this wall but I was shooting with my “nifty fifty” and didn’t want to stand out too far and be in the way of passersby. So I tried to get the best shot I could but ended up with a photo that seems cluttered and incomplete, having cut off some of the work to the left and bottom. I know I could have done better if I had taken the time to analyze the scene better but I allowed myself to feel rushed and tried to take the shots too quickly.

So, while I was disappointed with my results I am grateful for these examples as I can study them, pull my thought process apart, think back through why I chose to use certain settings or the composition, and allow them to teach me what I did wrong and how to improve. Sharing this story here, though, means I have that much more incentive to make sure I learn my lessons and put that to good use. One thing that helps make sure you don’t make the same mistakes is accountability, something many of us avoid like a virus, and doing so this way means I could possibly have many more people who will be watching to see what I do.

I’m pretty sure that anyone who reads this post will have their own opinions on what I did wrong, while maybe offering some thoughts on what I could have done better, so feel free to contact me. I’ll try to respond to those that are the most helpful (this is the internet, so…), as I am determined to see growth in my photography, and am willing to be held accountable to that standard. With that said, I hope you noticed the business cards of both of these artists in the featured image, as I want to encourage you to check them out! I may have blown it as it relates to photographing their work but that shouldn’t stop you from looking them up. ? 

(I even messed up trying to post this. smh)