Sometimes, Things Just Don't Go Well

Watch enough YouTube and photography tutorials, and you might start to think that accomplished photographers do nothing but take spectacular shots day in and day out. But the truth is that even the best among us have days where things just don't go right or the creative juices just aren't flowing properly. This great video takes an honest look at what happens when things just aren't going the way you had hoped.

Coming to you from Thomas Heaton, this awesome video follows him as he struggles with mediocre conditions and images that just aren't showing up the way he had hoped. Of course, when you hop on YouTube or even just take a look at any photographer's portfolio, you are only seeing the very best of their work and experiences. It can be easy to forget that for every perfect moment or stunning image you see, there are hundreds of unseen moments and mistakes that never make it to the public eye. We all struggle a bit sometimes, but the important thing, of course, is that we continue to persevere and improve. Just remember that everyone experiences those bad moments. Check out the video above to hear Heaton's full thoughts. 

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25 Comments

Broken Canon Art & Photography's picture

I never enter a shoot thinking I'm going to get that perfect shot. In fact I would never just stakeout a spot for hours on end trying to get that perfect shot. Therefore, according to others here, this is why my image fail to impress anyone. However, I could careless if my images impress anyone because all I need to be concerned with is if my images have worth or meaning to my wife. Once I please her and myself then the image has worth. The moral, if you're going to make a living trying to capture images that are nearly impossible to capture in ones lifetime, May as well get a more secure job. Enter into your shots thinking you'll get that perfect shot and it wont happen. Enter into this like you're simply on a vacation, then that image will pop up out of nowhere, unexpectedly.

"The moral, if you're going to make a living trying to capture images that are nearly impossible to capture in ones lifetime, May as well get a more secure job."

So if something is hard it's not worth doing? That doesn't sound like wisdom, that sounds like laziness. Or, at best, an excuse.

This is a mentality I've noticed a lot with people who would describe themselves as hobbyists but internally are quite pleased with their mediocre work. And I don't mean "mediocre" as an insult (though many would interpret it that way), it's just the reality of putting in a limited amount of effort.

Many people look at successful artists, who dedicate their lives to perfecting their crafts, and think they should be able achieve the same results by listening to them talk for 10 minutes on a YouTube channel. And the best ones will tell you flat out that despite all of the advice and the tips & tricks they can give you, you still need to do the work. But as soon as it involves time and possibly sacrifice, many will say, "well I'm certainly not going to do all that. But tell me how to do it almost as good with a fraction of the effort?"

Honestly, what makes you feel like you deserve to create great images without putting forth the effort? Why do you feel entitled to the perfect shot without staking out a spot for several hours? When every successful artist is saying it requires years and years of dedication, why do people still think that this doesn't apply to them? It look them years, but you're going to casually roll off of your couch, go for a 15 minute walk, and take the best picture anybody's ever seen. Seriously?

As somebody who flat out admits that their images would fail to impress anyone, do you really think you're the person who should be giving advice on how to "get that perfect shot"? I don't mean that to be insulting; it's an honest question. There's absolutely nothing wrong with doing something for fun, or just as a hobby, and I'm not passing judgment on those who pursue photography on a casual level. But you can't have it both ways. You can't be a casual shooter AND an authority. You can have opinions; everybody does. But merely having opinions is not the same thing as having the ability to formulate good ones. I think that distinction is often blurred by those who only try hard enough to achieve the former, which entirely summarizes the issue at hand. There's nothing "wrong" with being mediocre, just own it.

Jordan McChesney's picture

I agree with all of this, but also want to add that luck plays a huge role in landscape photography. Whenever I see amazing works from pros, I always remind myself “they do this 7 days a week, and can often go where they want, when they want”, whereas I get to travel a handful of times a year, usually with my wife and daughter.

I once arrived at a sunrise location at 3:30am in -5C weather for a 5:45am sunrise, only to find about 30 other people spent the night there. However, their wait was in vain as the sunrise was so uninspiring I didn’t even take a picture. You’ve got to put the time and work in, with a splash of luck.

If you have limited time, you have to adjust the way you shoot. That’s why I’ve started doing more city abstracts, as it allows me to pop out for 3-4 hours a week and come back with a keeper every once in a while.

Will Murray's picture

Your point is well made; however, I (and many others) have spent years practicing so I can shoot casually. There is much to be said for going for a hike, stopping, shooting, and keep walking.

Leigh Miller's picture

Maybe we should start calling FS's...the photo re-news site.....

No one is forcing you to visit the site mate.

It is funny up to the point of not being funny at all. Just the state of the modern landscape photography. YouTuber struggling with mediocre conditions for landscape photography will just shoot another YouTube video - problem solved :) This is the cornerstone of his business after all

Leigh Miller's picture

....I don't even bother watching his channel anymore.

Neither do I :) The most interesting videos on landscape photography that I have seen recently are coming from the OnLandscape and OnPhotography events. And to my surprise the most interesting speakers were not the ones that I would consider landscape photographers at all

Would you give me some good YouTube shooters recommendations from landscape/portrait learning perspective?

Thanks, will check out tonight, appreciate it

Stuart Carver's picture

Nick Page, Adam Gibbs, Henry Turner, Elia Locardi all great, Nigal Danson is ok on some of his vids too.

Stuart Carver's picture

Ill second first man, Adam's channel is brilliant... and a lot of it is shot in my local area:)

The whole world of these tutorials are kind of pointless. There are very few who actually make money taking landscape photos, and all the people 'teaching' are ones who are successful at making youtube videos and not known for their actual work. They are successful at youtube which makes them credible after the fact. Just my 2 cents on the world of YouTubers constantly being re-posted on FS lately.

Graham Taylor's picture

The same often goes for sites like this - the necessity to churn out constant content rather than quality. The burn-time on videos and articles now is so incredibly low that it almost doesn't matter what the content is like.

Ansel Spear's picture

Yet another Alex Cooke journalistic cop out.

I use to like Thomas Heaton, but he now appears to be struggling to fulfil his Squarespace commitment. Content is somewhat haphazard these days and not as compelling as it once was. I seldom watch him now.

Will Murray's picture

Tough audience. Buggered if I'd want your job, Alex.

I think there are a lot of professionals on FS reading articles. I think we are all just tired of youtube videos. Most of the content isnt good, or accurate or useful, but because of the number of subscribers, we value the content based on those numbers rather than the quality of what's being said.

Will Murray's picture

One would expect that "professionals" would have more productive and profitable things to do with their time than constantly complain about content they feel is beneath them.

Jordan McChesney's picture

While it’s true a lot of people here are pros who want to read news, or tech heavy articles, it’s also important to remember the opposite is true. There are a lot of non-pros who couldn’t care less about camera or photography news. While it may not be useful for some, it might be useful for others. Personally, I prefer the more blog like posts talking about personal experiences and thoughts. I don’t find anything regarding portrait photography, studio setups, or gear useful for me, but I understand it’s useful for others, so I don’t show up in the comment section and complain that there’s not enough content for me specifically.

The solution here is simple (in theory), Fstoppers should have a curated feed system, both for news and photos. Let the users choose what kind of content the want to see, and have that content take priority in their feed. This will not only help users see what they want, but it will give Fstoppers more insight into what people want to see, based on those curated preferences.

Alex Cooke's picture

Such is the life. *shrug*

Not surprised at the comments here at all. People are so negative these days and they sure love to comment and point out whatever has outraged them when at the same time they were never forced or obliged to view the content. Imagine going through your life like that...

Alex Cooke's picture

I get a lot of positive feedback and kind emails, plus the numbers indicate these posts are appreciated. I totally appreciate your kind words in your comments too. You can never please everyone, unfortunately.

Remember the lyrics to the children's tune?

"The bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain
The bear went over the mountain to see what he could see"

Just imagine yourself to be the bear when you are out with your camera.

You are out to see what you can see, to see what you can see.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UlV1Zsd_iY