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Hundreds of Thousands of Crappy Photos

Have you ever seen the work of a great photographer and felt this simultaneous combination of “Wow, this is so awesome!” and “Man, I really suck”?

Well, join the club, my friend. I think we all feel that way at some point. I mean, you want to be looking at work that is better than your own to inspire you. But that’s inevitably going to leave you feeling like you don’t measure up. Dilemma! But here’s the big thing to remember. What you don’t see are the hundreds of thousands of crappy photos that photographer has taken.

I’m not exaggerating. We tried to figure out how many photos we’ve taken that weren’t good enough to make the cut. We gave up really quickly because the numbers were staggering and I’d rather not think too much about it. ;)

So today, as hard proof, I am going to share some of our very recent crappy photos with you. I’ll give a bit of commentary about what makes them crappy, but, well, it’s pretty obvious. Hope you enjoy! :)

Exhibit A: From a very recent wedding. This is just a complete miss. I wasn’t in the right spot at all. Things were moving quickly, I was shooting a lot, wasn’t thinking enough, and took this stunner.

 

Exhibit B: Wow. Could that dress BE more blown out? There is absolutely no information left, and no way to recover the photo. I really rocked on this one. Basically I took a photo before I had considered a new lighting situation. Fail.

Upload from December 05, 2011

 

 Exhibit C: This one is just all sorts of bad. It’s underexposed to begin with, so that’s not awesome. But there’s much more crappiness going on here. Note the beautiful light pole coming right out of the bride’s head. Lovely. And the half child playing in the grass. Perfection.

Upload from December 05, 2011

 

Exhibit D: Just a complete miss. Even if the focus was actually on the pup, where it should be, it still would have been a weak shot. Blah.

 

Exhibit E: Textbook example of underexposure. Got too excited and took a shot before reading my light meter. Classic.

 

Exhibit F: Wow, this one is just crappy in every way. Blurry, boring, and it features that nice big blue light in the top corner. If that was a UFO this would be a good photo. But it’s not. So it’s crappy.

 

Exhibit G: What is this even of? I liked the lines, but did such a bad job of making something interesting out of them. It’s crooked, and the parking signs at the bottom are distracting. Just boring boring boring.

 

Ok, I think you’ve got the idea. We take some really crappy photos, even after years of doing this. And I expect there are many many more to come, and I’m cool with that. By taking crappy photos, understanding why they’re crappy (this is the key!) and then improving next time you’re out shooting, well, that’s how you get better!

So, when you’re looking at all your crappy photos, don’t feel bad. Remember that every photographer out there has taken so many crappy photos it would make your head spin. The great ones just learn from their mistakes, and keep on shooting!

Lauren Lim

Hey friend, I’m Lauren! I’m a photographer and head ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I’m downright obsessed with photography, and love sharing it with super cool folks like yourself. When I’m not shooting, or writing, you can find me cooking (and eating!), traveling, and hanging out with wonderful people.

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Discussion

73 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. You guys are awesome….simply awesome.

  2. Your self-deprecating humor on these shots is similar to my own inner thoughts when editing my photos. When I can figure out what I could have done differently to have improved the shot, I feel better. But when I can't, it irks me.

  3. You should totally organize a crap-off photo contest! Only the most awkward and unintended photos need apply. A celebration of mediocrity! This is one photo contest I could win at.

  4. Thanks for posting this! It's great to see that professionals still take crappy photos. I guess I hust have to keep reminding myself that everyone is human and a person is going to take a crappy/weird/boring photos every now and then…

  5. I just love your down-to-earth manner and your honesty. They make you so oh-so-awesome! It feels more reassuring to know that even with pros, not every shot is a perfect one!

  6. LOL. Great post! Thanks for taking the time to remind us that ALL photographers–even those that seem as if they've swapped an eye for a universal lens–are still human and prone to mistakes. lol

  7. You can't be ON all the time. I actually love coming home and laughing at the crap I took and I think it makes the good shots look that much better to me.haha Great post guys.

  8. awesome article! & so true! :D thanks for making my monday a bit sunnier!

  9. Great post, great reminders. This is why we have over 10,000 shots from our trip so far…excitement takes over the brain a lot.

  10. Good article and a perspective that is seldom covered.

    Exhibit C is not really that bad. However, if given the dilemma of completely throwing away that series or putting effort in to photoshop out the kid and the light pole, I would photoshop if it was the ONLY salvageable photo from the series. Otherwise, getting it right out of camera is always best.

    Also, another interesting stats to track is your keep rate. Mine usually hovers around 60% because I am quite selective on when I press the shutter button. However, the side-effect is that I do lose some good opportunities some times.

  11. Dawn Shiree says:

    You are continually one of the most encouraging sources on the web for us newbies. You rock.

  12. Ha, I've seen photos like those actually ON people's sites, advertising their work.

  13. haha, this is my favourite post ever.

  14. You guys are always so encouraging. When it feels like I've lost all hope in my work, I come to your blog and read posts after posts, and I can't help but feel so enlightened and inspired :)

  15. Thank you for sharing these. Seriously awesome.

  16. This is awesome man.

  17. When I edit my wedding photos in Lightroom I use a #rating. #1 = client images and #5 = crappy images. What I then do is export all my crappy images from weddings or what ever the event is and put them all in one folder. Then once a week I look at the folder to see why I can improve on and do certain "improvement shots" on shoots. Just a few shots , not a whole shoot just because I don't want to risk a clients session.

  18. love the open, down to earth-ness!. so much awesome going on in one site!

  19. I like this post. Nobody is amazing all the time. Trouble is if it is a photo of my family I cannot click delete, mushy old me…

  20. Love this post! Really value your honesty! We can all relate! :D xxx

  21. I was having a pretty down morning from last night. Thanks for picking me up with your humor. Thank you for this post!

  22. I love yall, man you are so right! I beat myself up when I am looking at my "inspirational photographers' works" all the time! I guess we all have hit or misses!

  23. This is a great post! Made me feel better. Thanks.

  24. Okay, THIS is what I am talking about. God, I love you dudes and your wonderful realness. I recently "wrote a big ol' blog post":http://blog.letsfrolictogether.com/dailyfrolic/2011/11/30/connecting-learning-and-growing/ about finding purpose through photography and how I deal with the occasional self-doubt that comes up when stumbling across these gloriously magical photographers one occasionally (often) comes across. THIS is the answer to that. Reminding yourself that everyone is human and errs is so strangely and wonderfully heartening. You guys are great.

  25. I actually love Exhibit D… but maybe that's the kind of style I'm really in to.

    But all things aside, when I started out I thought there was something wrong with me when i had a 75% deletion rate. It has taken me 2 years to realize that one can still take really crappy pictures even with a 5dmkii with a 85 1.2. Thank you.

  26. Thanks for being real! Great post!

  27. Oh, you guys. I just love you.
    I actually have a Lightroom collection of all the photos that make me laugh when I'm sorting. They're mostly half-blinking toddlers and smooshy-faced drummers. Pretty good way to cheer yourself up on an off-day!

  28. Great post. Very funny and nice to see someone else's crappy shots for a change rather than my own!

  29. lol, awesome, thanks for reminding us it's ok to get bad photos too.

  30. You have no idea how much this post meant to me! I do that all the time…go looking for inspiration, and come away feeling lousy about my own talent and images. Thanks for keeping it real. I LOVE YOU GUYS!!!

  31. Oh my word. I just stumbled onto your blog from a friend who was creeping photographers and I loooove the work you both create. I'm starting to fall in love with portrait photography and tried photographing my friend's little family. Epic FAIL. This post just made me feel a heck of a lot better. Instant fan here!! Added to google reader IMMEDIATELY!

  32. Wow guys! Thank you ALL for the amazing comments. I'm so glad that you enjoyed seeing my crappy photos, haha!!

    *@Evan:* I love it! Crap-Off contest. Totally have to do that!

    *@Melvin:* We took a bunch of shots of setup C, so there was certainly a better shot to use. My keep rate is much lower than yours because I shoot a TON! I don't usually miss much, but have to spend ages sorting photos. Definitely a trade-off!

    *@Daniel:* That's a great idea, ranking while sorting, and then checking out the bad stuff to see how you could improve! Thanks for sharing!

    *@Jasmine:* Thanks for sharing your post! And for writing it. It definitely resonated. Hard. I very much agree that thinking of our *why* can help big time when self-doubt creeps up. You're great!!!

    Thanks again everyone. I was a bit nervous showing these photos, but with all these wonderful responses, I'm so glad I did!!

  33. Guys, how much we love you for putting these out there. We all have these shots! But it takes someone truly talented and humble to use them as a learning opportunity, especially when it's a public lesson! Cheers! You guys are fabulous.

  34. LOVE this post. My wish list from my Secret Santa family member this year is for Extremely Essential Camera Skills. I couldn't be more excited to go through it all and even more so after reading this post! THANK YOU!

  35. I am glad to see more of us are willing to share our mistakes, I recently posted on my blog my mistakes. You can check it out http://off-leash.ca/blog/archives/3103
    Thank you for sharing, sometimes we get carried away and as much as I want to say I take only good shots I have to admit that like most of us I only SHOW the good ones! lol

  36. Nice one!
    Great post and fantastic examples. :)

  37. WHOAAAA Lauren.. Thanks for reminding us that both of you are still human enough to do mistakes especially in photography. I always admire your humility and passion to help other fellow photographers!!!

    Cheers fr Malaysia

  38. *@Kat, Kristin, Sabtiago and Redza:* Thank you so much guys! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one!!

    *@Angie:* High five to you for sharing your mistakes as well! I learned a TON about pet photography from your post, thanks so much!!

  39. Like they say… the truth is out there! :D
    Love your honesty and down to earth personality! :)
    Keep it coming.

  40. This is fun! I imagine a sort of AA meeting for photographers: "Hi, I'm Christian. I occasionally take poor photos…"

  41. I NEVER post comments anywhere, b/c…uh…I don't even know why. But, I HAVE to here. How awesome that you will actually admit that you overshoot sometimes, that EVERY FREAKING SHOT is not a "winner". You guys give REAL info, and that is hard to find these days. So, Thank You.

  42. This was pure awesome! Made me laugh and realize that, as a beginner, I don't have to get bummed out when I see my craptacular photos! Bookmarking this site NOW!!!

  43. Hahahhaha. LOVE it. What a rockstar. My favorite was the half-child on the grass. teehee. Thanks for sharing and reminding. You can just never take yourself TOO seriously. :)

  44. Aww… this article really touched my heart. Thank you for boldly exposing your err crappy photos HAHAHA and for the witty, slightly self-depreciating remarks (really made my day).

  45. as they say, practise makes perfect. but a friend of mine who is photographer also told me.. per session.. hundreds if not thousand of shots are taken.
    it's like the old way of warfare with the line of fire, they didn't have sharpshooters.. they went with the quantity

  46. Takes courage to show your "outtakes"! Thank you very much for sharing and reiterating that not every shot is going to be a keeper!

  47. Oh wow… so true. I'm just starting out and barely know the jist of photography. I think 1 out of an average of 20 shots that I take I consider is pretty good.

    Question: Do you just delete the crappy photos? or Do you still keep them?

    I kinda do both (i don't know why). But the REAL crappy ones I just delete straight off the camera. My other crappy ones make it to my computer.

    Would like to get your thoughts on that.

    Excellent post and thanks for calling it out. :)

  48. This post made my day, I love your honesty! I have recently started out in photography and have been trying to get up to courage to post my stuff online and expand my client base beyond family and friends. However, every time I look at "inspirational photographers" I chicken out feeling like I still have such a long way to go. This post was so encouraging, thanks for sharing!!

  49. Wonderful post, thank you so much for being honest. this makes me feel so much better, knowing, there's always the one or the other bad shot, even for pros. no problem, as long as you keep on going.

  50. Thank you so much for this….even before reading the full blog, I was thinking….we only see the best photos posted by the pros while we see EVERY click of our own shutters! I agree with Jessica above…I do post for friends and family, and have only ventured out of my comfort zone a few times. Appreciate the encouragement!

  51. Oh, thank you for this! Not only did it make me laugh, but in this world of constantly trying to measure up to others, it sheds alot of perspective. I'm about to shoot my first wedding, and this was definitely a confidence booster!

  52. TTYTY! I needed this today!!! I just went through a LR catalog filled with MY crap so seeing that YOU have crap also makes me feel a little better about myself. Half child – hhaha :)

  53. Hey everyone! Thanks for comments :)

    @Wil – Our custom has been not to delete photos ever, even the crap ones! For weddings and portraits we've had several instances where people we photographed passed away and the family asked if we could check our archive for any extra photos.

    I think this is a special instance for weddings and portraits.

    Right now I'm in the process of organizing our image archive and there sure are a lot of crappy photos! For personal work I'm going to start deleting the really crappy shots (out of focus, blinkers, shots from inside of camera bag).

    I'm glad we've kept all our images so far, even the crappy ones. It's been important for us to learn from them. I think it's also taken us awhile to actually figure out what to keep and what to delete.

    Going forward I'm hoping to maintain a much tighter image collection, deleting or archiving all but the best.

  54. Courageous and honest! Kudos!

  55. It's always fun to see others post their work and be completely honest about it! Thanks!

  56. I just discovered your blog today via a post by PhotoMint. I am so happy to have found all of your great articles and resources, including this one.

    Can't wait to read more!

    Diane

  57. Very funny, I guess this is not so common for you and certainly way less than it is for me!
    Maïeva Voyage

  58. That one with the dog out of focus is the story of my life! I get the pictures all excitedly uploaded and am scanning through them when I see that one awesome shot that I can't wait to play with…but wait, the subject is blurry but the tree behind her is awesomely crisp. I hate that! Glad to hear I'm not alone.

  59. Thanks! This post made me smile, realizing that every person taking pictures has these moments.

  60. Dee Wheat says:

    My sig on another photography forum is:

    Your first 10,000 photos are your worst.

    What it doesn't say is, some of the next 100,000 are going to be worse!

  61. yay! you guys are just the best! seriously feeling more empowered than ever…thanks.alot.seriously.

  62. What a perfect post to read – I am literally just about to start editing two weddings and I thought I’d just take a look at my favourite blog before I started. I’m so pleased I did! My first look through all the images usually leaves me crestfallen as I think I’ve got nothing to work with. It takes a couple of rounds of viewing before I admit I’ve got lots to work with! But reading your post has probably just sped up that process so I thank you, so so much!!

  63. Thanks for being hilarious! It’s encouraging that bad photos happen to all of us :D

  64. Lauren, this is awesome. I know I’m a little late to the post (just found your website from a friend and ohmygodiminlovewithitalready) but this post is just hilarious and awesome in all the right ways!

  65. LOVE LOVE LOVE! What a great reminder that 1} I’m not the only one who takes crappy photos and 2} I am learning from all those mistakes. :) Thanks!

  66. I was looking through photographs by professional photographers and thinking about how I can’t take photos like that, and I came upon this site; it made my day. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who takes crappy photos when they’re trying to take good/great photos. And, photography has helped me not be so…shy(I’m 17, and have problems talking to people I know and asking to take their photo.), so I want to be good at it and this website has given great tips to help me reach my goal, so thanks. :D.

  67. Lauren,

    First of all, my apologies for being so late in commenting on this humorous and encouraging post, but I’ve only now joined your site, so I hope that I’m forgiven, at least a bit.

    Now my comment.

    I think you only left out one thing that may be so obvious that we miss it. The best photographers are the best EDITORS. And I don’t mean in the PS way. They show ONLY their best shots so, of course, we know them only from those shots. Since those shots are spectacular, if only because out of 1,000,000,000 you’re bound to to be spectacular by the laws of probability, we think they are spectacular. (Yes, the McNallys and the Fortneys and the Adams and the Sammons and the…… are spectacular, but they too suck at times). I guess what I’m saying to everyone, including myself is:

    Take lots of photos.
    Be brutally honest in your critiquing of them.
    Learn from the mistakes.
    Never show the mistakes to others.
    Show only your best stuff.
    Work to make your best stuff better and better.

    Maybe putting this down on paper (well, photons I guess) will force me to heed my own advice.

    Thanks for allowing me to join you!

  68. BENEDICT MENEZES says:

    We all learn from our mistakes, thanks for sharing, it takes COURAGE

  69. THANK YOU!! Its easy to feel like you’re the only one who has a full recycle bin of photos that you don’t want anyone to know you took. Nice to know I’m not alone! ;-)

  70. Love this post. In all the ways.

  71. Thank you for helping me smile at all my own crappy photos and remembering it’s recognizing fails that helps us all become better photographers.

  72. THANK YOU!!! You guys ROCK!! Not many photographers would be as brave as you!

  73. Oh. This.

    When I was working on my final project for my lighting class (a series of 12-15 photographs), at one point my instructor asked me, “So how many photos have you taken?” I answered, “At least 400.” His reply? “It’s a start.”

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