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Shut Up and Screw Up!

by Chris Gampat on 04/18/2011

I’ve got the week off from work, so I’ll be posting more than once a day for this week. With that in mind, I went out today for a photo walk with the great David Cardinal: he was visiting NYC and I told him that I’d give him and his family a photo walk tour of NYC. While waiting for them, I looked out at the waters at South Street Seaport. With me, I had my Canon 7D and 85mm F/1.8. I shot the photo above on the left, but believe it or not I shot it around 5 times and different exposures until I remembered what I had been taught before. So in order to achieve the photo on the left I focused and metered for the sign which gave me the water all blown out. Then I metered for the sign, physically moved the camera’s focusing point to over the water and tried to figure out a good middle ground for me to be able to perfectly balance the water and the sign. After a couple of tries, the above left photo was the best attempt without a bit of fill flash. However, I knew that it was a good enough attempt that I would be able to fix it in post, and that’s the resulting photo on the right.

So what’s the point of this story? We need to go out there, shut up, and screw up. We as photographers can sit here all day and bad mouth others. But what do we have to show for ourselves? Can we do any better? I hate it when people complain about a cut off arm of a model in a portrait, if the image is astounding otherwise. Seriously, let me see what you’ve got instead!

The overall point of the story is that we need to go out there and shoot everyday. And we need to make mistakes. When we’ve made said mistakes, we need to come back and look at the results in the digital Lightroom and discern for ourselves how we could have done better. We should look at mistakes in a positive light because they are an opportunity for us to grow and become better photographers.

I compare this a bit to being a young(er) man. Every guy needs to figure out the tips and tricks to win a woman’s heart. But once he’s got a winning formula for him, he’ll be fine. But the only way that he figures out his formula is by going out there, getting hurt and making mistakes. Granted, love and photography are different fields. But that’s how I learned how to embrace mistakes.

And as photographers, we need to screw up and stop moping over the mistake. We just need to figure out how to become better and correct it next time.

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