The Importance of Embracing Mistakes in Photography

The art of photography thrives not just on the celebration of successes but equally on the acknowledgment and analysis of failures. Understanding what doesn't work in one's photography can be as crucial as recognizing what does, providing valuable insights for personal growth and style development. 

Coming to you from Shoot On Film -- by Ari Jaaksi, this insightful video takes a refreshing turn from the usual triumphs of photography as shown on the internet to a candid examination of mistakes and misses. Jaaksi opens up about the images that didn't turn out as hoped and delves into a critical review of his work. This approach underscores an important aspect of photography: the relentless pursuit of improvement. By scrutinizing his own work, Jaaksi demonstrates how you can learn from failures to refine your vision and technique. The discussion on adjusting to lighting conditions and the importance of composition offers practical advice that can significantly impact your photographic outcomes.

Jaaksi’s personal anecdotes from his experiences shooting in Mexico City and his hometown bring to life the challenges photographers face in real-world scenarios. His story about the photograph taken early in Mexico City, expecting it to be perfect only to be disappointed by the harsh lighting and overwhelming background, serves as a poignant reminder of the unpredictability and impermanence of photographic moments. Similarly, his experimentation with different compositional rules and his reflections on choosing the right film type for a given setting emphasize the need for adaptability and intentionality in photography. These insights encourage you to embrace and learn from your mistakes.

Moreover, Jaaksi's adventures with various cameras and settings, from the streets of Mexico City to the quiet fogs of Finland, illustrate the importance of choosing the right equipment for your vision. His experiences with the Holga camera and his exploration of color versus black and white film highlight how technical choices can profoundly affect the narrative and emotional impact of your images. This narrative brings forth an essential truth: the continuous evolution of a photographer’s skill set is driven by both their successes and their shortcomings. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Jaaksi.

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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1 Comment

I am like you, I learn from others a lot! I believe your post/video is very important due to the rise in film again, it has brought Kodak back from almost gone! There is one very very important fact about all you photos and none of your cameras, I can only guess, have no built in light meters but with your knowledge and use maybe already kinda know how the lighting will affect the film.
I stated with film in the mid 70's but with a Canon Ftb while traveling the Mediterranean while in the Navy and basically won the lottery with low cost MWR tours. I had to send back film to Kodak and it took a month like sending a letter a getting a reply back! So I had to make a log book for each roll and image and dates for each, really the fun part. A soon to retire 1st Class Petty Officer who got me interested directed me to the camera due to it was one of the first to have a built in light meter meaning that a needle would move up and down and all I had to do is put the aperture round circle over the needle. I also tried to learn how to use a hand held light meter but a waste. Also the camera when you loaded the film you would put ASA on the top near the shutter, making it just about an automatic camera. The nice thing also was a NATO camera shop in Naples so I have just about all lenses but the 14mm f/2.8, Yes there was one but really rare today so cost $$$'s.
All you needed was a couple rolls for day and night just change out the rolls at night and yes also a way of doubling and tripling the ASA for very dark nights or dark places like inside the Pyramids, one roll 5 shots but I got it no flash (Batt died in the heat).
The true joy was when I went Sony I used the FD lenses with an adapter for a year while saving for some lenses. You may know this but back then there were prism filters that are real fun at night and the ladies liked the photos with some with the multi images of themselves.
The log book for those getting into film today is very important for the learning as well as where, when and how for the way long after for memories.
Your images to me are superb, the skinny trees I would call southern thickets where we shot deer close up due to just too many trees in the way. I can tell your eye is great no matter you like or not for all help in the sharpening of the eye. I was in Yugoslavia and saw Doc from Gunsmoke, no but looked just like and when I show my slides everyone thinks it. David Letterman in Venice with his wife/girlfriend window shopping just had to be there or Capri Italy where a long walk down to a swimming place and capturing straight down where swimmers looked like flying through the air the water is clear. But a bag full of film is key with grease pencil of number of images.
I might add today in the digital era nobody can wright on the back of who, what and where for kids to find in a attic one day!