Stephen Bay's Photography Blog

Be Willing to Fail

As a landscape photographer, I often feel a lot of pressure to come away with a good photo when I go on a shoot. This could be because I’m traveling and I won’t be able to return to the location easily. Or it might be that I need certain environmental conditions such as the clouds and the tides to align which doesn’t happen that frequently. For some of my moon shots, I’ve waited over a year for the right alignment.

Sometimes pressure is a good thing. It gets my heart rate up. I start focusing on the task at hand. Other distractions disappear from my mind. I forget about the misery of being cold or wet. I forget about being hungry because I’ve been waiting outside for hours.

But my advice to landscape photographers is to let it go.

Don’t put pressure on yourself to always come away with a good photo. Don’t go into your shoot with the mindset that you have to come away with a photo to feed the social media beast share on social media with your fans.

If you pressure yourself to always come away with a good picture, you’ll stop taking risks. You’ll take the safe route and pick the straightforward composition that you know will work but it isn’t the picture you really want to make. You won’t experiment because you don’t know how the shot will come out and you fear that you’ll waste that amazing sunset.

Well sunsets come and go. There will always be another terrific sunset. Maybe you’ll have to wait a month. Maybe it will be a year. But it will come again.

When I stopped pressuring myself to come away with a good photo everytime I went out, I had a major breakthrough in my photography. Being willing to fail freed me to experiment with new compositions and ideas. I’ve definitely missed out on good usable photos that could be published or sold, but by taking risks I’ve come away with more great shots that I love and have made their way into my portfolio.