Five Things You Might Regret In Five Years

Five Things You Might Regret In Five Years

As much as we’d all like to be able to say that we’ve lived life up to this point with no regrets, the fact is, some of us may have many; and that’s OK. Identifying things you may have done differently is a vital step towards moving forward in a productive way. Here are five aspects of photography that you may regret if you're not conscious of them as you work throughout the next five years.

Neglecting Your Health

One thing we don’t discuss much as artists and photographers is our health. Statistics surrounding our behaviors and their effects on our health are everywhere. One study noted by the Mayo Clinic compared individuals who spent less than two hours a day in front of the televisions or other screen-based entertainment (computer monitor) with those who spent more than four hours a day sitting in front of some sort of screen. Those with greater screen time had a nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause, and about 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease. Yeah, like heart attacks.

I don’t know about you, but numbers like that freak me out and they’re more than enough to motivate me to get off of my butt every 30 minutes or so while editing to do some sort of physical activity that gets my blood flowing and muscles working, even if only for a moment. 

InfoGraphic from

Wasting Precious Time

Time is an interesting topic. Humans have a tendency to measure time, yet there's no mass to weigh and its value is only determined by that which we give it, or give for it. Yet in today’s society, time is one of the most valuable and limited aspects of our day to day life. Be careful with the way you choose to spend your time as you work towards building your photography portfolio or career. We can never get back the early years of our children lives. As I compose this article, I’m also making my two young children their lunch. It’s time that I refuse to regret losing and have learned to balance with my time that’s dedicated to my professional life.

We can never redo high school knowing all that we know now. We can’t take back things that we’ve already said aloud. Long story short, time travel doesn’t exist, so making the most out of the time we have is something on the forefront of the minds of many. 

Putting Too Much Out There

Now seems like a good time to bring up quality over quantity. The internet had never seen so many images prior to the boom of social media in the earlier years of this century. With that said, it’s safe to say that a good majority of those images should have probably never been shared with the world to begin with. Many photographers, myself included, have made the mistake of posting images that are, well, less than our current standard. This is okay, but years down the road there’s a good chance that said images will still be lingering around as people search your name on the internet. That can be embarrassing. Something you can do when it comes to posting images on the internet is first ask yourself why you’re posting the image. If the best answer you can come up with is something like “because I like it,” you may want to hold off on posting it.

Choosing The Wrong Genre

We mentioned how important our time is, so investing our time in a genre that we’ll later grow out of probably isn’t the best idea. Naturally, we evolve as artists and photographers and while doing so we may make the decision to venture into new genres of photography. This is normal, and not exactly what I’m referring to in terms of regret. What I am referring to is the situation in which the type of work you become known for limits a later decision to change genres. 

For example, I’ve spent roughly the last two years finding and removing images online that I have taken and now feel are too risqué to show potential wedding and family portrait clients (where most of my energy is now invested). It’s not so much that I regret the genre I had previously been involved in, I'm quite proud of some of the work I turned out actually, it’s just that it’s been royal pain the the rear trying to make my web presence appear more family friendly. The value of that genre’s portfolio just isn’t very much to me these days. 


Since I just mentioned how much of a pain it is to track down and remove images associated with your web presence that may mislead potential clients, we should take moment to think about watermarks. I know this subject is beat to death on forums all over the internet, but ask yourself one thing: Do the best photographers in the world watermark the images they share with giant distracting watermarks? Nope. They don’t, and you shouldn’t either. Popular fonts and graphics seem to change almost as often as fashion. Dating your images with an overkill watermark really doesn't do anything for you and there's a good chance that you'll look at it later on down the road and ask yourself, "What was I thinking?"


The truth is I really don't regret a single thing I've done along my photographic journey. After all, it's led me to a pretty comfortable spot in which I'm still learning and having fun nearly everyday. That's really all I'm after. However, if I could go back and have a chat with myself five years ago, I'd urge my younger self to listen and to not be in such a big stinkin' hurry - something that is still easier said than done. 

What are some experiences you've learned from over the last five years? What would you tell your younger self if you could talk to them today? Share in the comments below. 

Dusty Wooddell's picture

Dusty Wooddell is a professional photographer based in the Southwestern United States. Self-proclaimed thinker, opportunity seeker, picky eater, observer of things.

Log in or register to post comments

I've noticed a great number of photographers (myself included) have pigeon-holed themselves on their own websites and social media. For example: "I'm a natural light portrait photographer..." This doesn't leave much room for growth beyond what's stated.

That's a good point. It's always a good idea to leave room for growth

Great article!

Good piece.

You should consider yourself lucky that you have not a single regret in your photographic journey / career.

I have a few decisions I regret. Decisions that changed the trajectory of my career. Decisions that cost me tons of money, rented a building because I thought I would be there 2 years, I was there 7. Client interactions that could have gone better.
Leaving a staff position to go on my own about 6 months before the company took off like a rocket. Trusting colleagues who were somewhat untrustworthy.

Don't get me wrong, I also have made many good decisions but I looking back there are obvious forks in the road where I took the wrong one...but that's life.

This is Chubby Son. Every night before bedtime it's brusha-brusha, vitamin, then sleepy time and stories. Reading him stories or sitting in the dark and singing to him I find that it can be all too easy to rush through things so I can get back to my film side projects or head back to the studio to do some more shooting. But every night I realize that he's a little bit bigger, a little bit older, and the day's coming quick when sleepy time and stories won't be one of his favorite times of day and Daddy won't be so cool anymore. There's a relative few people who consider the importance of family, much less write about it. Thanks for giving it some attention, Dusty.

The Genre part is where I've been for... 3 years? I love 2 things, and I keep shooting both and every year I go "I'm only going to shoot A and no more B" but I love both and I shoot both. I kind of think I have to just accept it and move on now. lol.

Great article, thanks for the insights.

Just google imaged your name, you might need to try a bit harder removing the risqué images :-)

I speak from experience.. the nudes were the hardest to disassociate with

While I don't watermark images I post on Instagram, 500px, or on my main website, the ones I post on Facebook or give to models to post on Facebook always have my watermark. Brand/name recognition in my local market has opened the doors to work with much higher quality models.

The best reason for not water marking... I look at some of my stuff on social media, with my old waterstamp, and I cringe...

Dusty, good article. What took you out of the glamor genre and into weddings and family portraiture? Was it purely financial or did your own tastes and interests change?

Mainly business reasons. I'm still connected to the genre via personal friends, however it just doesn't make sense for me to market my business to that particular crowd anymore.