Do or do not. There is no try.

If there is one thing I have learned, having been active in online photography communities for many years, is that you should never say any of the following:

  • There wasn’t enough light.
  • There was too much light.
  • I had no room to move.
  • The subject was too distant.
  • I didn’t have the right lens.

Sometimes people will share one of their photos, asking for comments and critiques and then, when someone points out a problem with composition or exposure, the photographer will try to explain why the photo is not as good as it could have been:

“I should have maybe composed tighter, but I didn’t have a longer lens.”

“I should have used a longer shutter speed, but I didn’t have the tripod with me.”

“The dog ate my remote release.”

The fact is, nobody cares about all the perfectly valid justifications we have for not taking the best shot we could have taken. Viewers of our photos don’t know anything about the difficult circumstances we had to face, the hurdles we had to climb, and the fact that we forgot our polarizing filter in the other bag. Even if they knew, it is doubtful they would care much.

Before putting our photos out there for everybody to see, we should make sure they are as good as they can be. Never show work that is less than perfect and then try to justify its defects on account of the difficulties you had to face in creating it. If people give you constructive criticism, accept it and use it to grow your art.

Do you agree or disagree? Join the discussion by leaving a comment in the box below. I very much appreciate your input.

Comments 6

  1. There is perfect without subjectivity, there is “as good as I know how to make it”, and then there is learning through education and mentoring…it depends on where a photo is posted and the circumstances

  2. Agree.
    But then perfection is in the eye of the beholder. So shoot and showcase it if you are happy about it. Everybody has a right to opine constructively or otherwise about what you show .

    1. Post

      You are right, Vinayak. Showcase what you think is your best work and then own it. Do not put forward excuses to justify mistakes and defects. That is the point I am trying to make.

  3. What’s the point of a critique if you are just going to try and explain it away? I agree that you should only put your best out there. If you put something out there that you know isn’t a finished product or the best you could do, then a critique is just going to tell you things you might already know or it just won’t help you grow into a better photographer. Critique your best and you will surpass your best. Critique your mediocre and you won’t get anywhere. Just my thoughts. 🙂 Great post and topic for discussion Ugo!

  4. What exactly is a “mistake” in art? If I have composed a picture in a certain way that’s because there is a reason for that and sometimes that reason is that there was no space to my left or my right and i preferred to get the best composition possible while the light is decent instead of spending inordinate amounts of time trying to optimise my viewpoint and lose the light. Also, my composition doesn’t have to be somebody else’s choice. Isn’t photography as an art supposed to be about self expression and not worrying about “criticism”? Moreover isn’t art also a subjective thing with no real right or wrong? Mistakes or perfections? Having said all that, i do agree with you that if you are asking for critique then you will get it so better be prepared to either defend or admit. But even then not every criticism is real criticism if its sneaking into the realms of right or wrong.

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