Photographers are often a varied and diverse bunch, as there are so many different genres and attractions to the medium. But there are some lies we all tell ourselves from time to time. Which is the worst?
The first thing to note is this article isn't calling you out. This is a tongue-in-cheek piece about the lies we all tell ourselves, though it's certainly worth checking you aren't making any of these mistakes.
Truth be told, there are an almost endless number of lies we tell ourselves. One of the primary difficulties, I believe, is the line you must walk between professional and hobbyist. If you're a hobbyist, you aren't likely to turn down money for your art, and that can influence decisions even though it perhaps ought not to. Similarly, as a professional, I have to balance the acquisition of new gear between my love for photography and my business account! But money is just one area, and there are plenty of technical and philosophical lies we tell ourselves too. Here are some of what I consider to be the worst candidates.
I Need That New [Insert Piece of Gear]
This is a classic and likely the most prevalent. A new camera comes out, and it's difficult not to imagine what you could do with it, casting a scowl at your freshly outdated black box. Suddenly, you start to wonder just how brilliant a filmmaker you will be with 8K footage at your disposal, despite the only thing you have filmed in the last year being your cat as it dragged its rear on the rug, and that was using your phone. Or perhaps you announced decidedly to your partner that the new f/1.2 prime that has been launched will give you such desirable subject separation that clients or social media adulation will beat at your door like a biblical flood.
Camera bodies and lenses are far from the only offenders. The other peripherals depend largely on the 'tog, but I've seen many tell the same lies about camera bags, intervalometers, drones, lighting, tripods, and so on. You almost certainly don't need it. Speaking of tripods...
I Don't Need My Tripod
The number of times I've gone on a hike, outing, or day trip and decided I didn't need my tripod is unconscionable. It's a decision seldom made on likely application of the tool, but rather my unwillingness to carry just about anything in my hands, or the weight it adds to my backpack. I once trekked up a mountain to shoot the views from the top even though it was stormy — no, especially because it was stormy — with dreams of moody landscapes. I was right, the landscapes were moody, but so was I. I had to fashion a makeshift tripod out of my backpack and any other scaffolding I could erect around my camera to get proper exposure times or try creative techniques. Silly boy.
I'll Fix That in Post
If you haven't said this, at least in your head and then regretted it later, are you even a photographer? It is the gold standard of lies and one you have to train yourself out of telling. In my early days, I said this at least once per shoot, whether landscape, portrait, or something in between. I would then have to spend unthinkable quantities of my precious time fixing what I could have done in a fraction of the temporal outlay on location. If you find yourself saying that you'll fix something in post, take 10 seconds to work out how long it will take to fix right there and then and how long it will take to fix in Photoshop, then make the decision as an informed one!
I Don't Need to Take My Camera Today
There's little unpacking necessary with this lie. You already know that if you stand in front of your camera bag before you go out for the day, debate its companionship, and then opt against picking it up, you're going to regret it. I believe I have told this story on Fstoppers once before some years back, so I'll summarize it instead. I used to take my camera with me wherever I went after received wisdom told me to do so. One morning, I had to be up tremendously early to get to university in the infamously bleak midwinter. It was still dark, it was freezing, and I was unhappy about having to drive for an hour for a 9 am seminar. When I saw my camera bag, I said a less polite "sod it" and left without it. Half an hour into my journey, I had to go through dense woodlands. The clouds cracked, and thick, orange light poured through a misty forest as it lightly snowed, sun dancing off the little flakes. Shafts of morning light stabbed through every tree as far as I could see, and to this day (this cautionary tale is from over 10 years ago) it was the most beautiful moment I've ever witnessed in the U.K., by miles.
I Don't Need to Learn Strobes; I Prefer Natural Light
This is one of those subjects that could take a lighthearted article miles off course in the comments. Nevertheless, we're going in. Natural light can be beautiful for portraits, events, interior, product, and every other kind of shot where some people light them with strobes. In fact, the images wouldn't necessarily be improved by strobes. However, not learning how to use flashes or studio strobes because you prefer natural light is a poor decision. There are many situations where strobes will vastly improve your work, but that matters not; just because you know how to use them, doesn't mean you have to. It's better to have the option there and choose to still work with only natural light than to deprive yourself of the choice. You do need to learn strobes; there's almost no reason not to. It's a lie many photographers tell themselves, and it's probably the most damaging.
What Do You Think the Worst Lie Is?
The lies above that us photographers are prone to telling ourselves are far from the only ones, they are just five that I have told myself at one point or another and have noticed as commonplace within photography. What is the worst lie you have told yourself as a photographer? What is the worst lie you've seen other photographers tell themselves? Am I off-base with any of my entries to the list? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.