How To Be Happy With Your Photography

Let’s face it, there are times when you are not happy with your photography. You look for and need external validation on your photograph or you simply can not find the reason why you took the picture in the first place.

I’ve been there and there are times when I simply feel stuck. Blogging about my photography has begun to really help me overcome this feeling. Here are a couple of things that I always try and keep in mind.

Create for Yourself

That’s right, the first rule for being happy with your photos is to take photographs that make you happy. Each time you lift that camera up to your eye, you’re not thinking about how many likes, stars or some other rating system.

I certainly am not.

When I lift the camera up to my eye level, it is because there is something fundamentally clear in my mind’s eye about the scene that I want to capture and keep for myself. I wanted to press that shutter and I didn’t do it thinking about public opinion.

Happy with your photographs ~ Look Up and Touch the Sky
Look Up and Touch the Sky

In the end, I am the ultimate judge of my own work and my opinion is the most important one when it comes to judging my pictures. If I waited around for everybody to give me positive feedback I’d be waiting a long time. Sure, if people like the picture as well, then that is a great bonus but that is all that it is.

Commit to Creating

When you commit to creating it becomes a lot harder to give yourself an excuse to not do the work. This commitment could be in a public forum like a blog or simply a personal one. If you refuse to not let yourself off the hook, then it becomes easier to actually do the work.

You begin to think that the words “I Can’t” can not exist in your vocabulary. Sure it may be that it is challenging but it is not something that is impossible to do.

Experimenting with reflections and depth.
Reflections on Inception

This blog post, for example, has taken me a long time to write. I could have said I can’t write something this week but then I would be letting myself and all of my readers down. Instead, I just stuck to it and wrote.

I’ll be honest, the first draft of this was horrendous but I persisted and kept going. Through time and effort, it all seemed to come together in the end. It might not be the best blog post I’ve written but that’s OK because first and foremost this is something I create for myself.

New Techniques and Experimentation

Sometimes the best photos are found through trying new techniques and continued experimentation. I always find myself amazed at how a different technique can create such powerful images from what I would have thought a boring scene.

These techniques and experiments might be in camera or in the post-processing stage. I’ve written a bit about post-processing of black and white pictures and how flat light can be turned into a totally different scene. The picture below is an experiment to see what happens when you zoom out while the shutter is still open.

Crazy Zooming ~ An experiment that made me happy with photography again.
Crazy Zooming ~ An experiment that made me happy with photography again.

Here are some of the things I do to constantly learn and improve for myself:

  1. I will take a new technique and then use it constantly for a day. I find it hard to continue to use a technique for longer than a day; however, it doesn’t mean I won’t repeat the whole experiment again later.
  2. If I find that my photos are starting look a little boring or the same, I go wild in Lightroom and Photoshop and see how far I can push the picture.
  3. Sometimes I will simply put my camera down and not force the situation. Reflection and taking a break is OK.

Writing all this has reminded me of a quote that a friend gave to me sometime in university. They always thought I was not one to try and fit in just to fit in. This quote has traveled with me since then.

The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority.
The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority.
The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking. ~ A. A. Milne

For me, the last sentence is vital. Keep thinking and be curious for yourself and you will find the happiness in everything you do. The more you think and create the better you will get at your craft.