Your next photograph might be your best
Lately this has been happening to me more than I'd care to admit. I'll shoot, and shoot, and shoot, and be dissatisfied with the photographs that I've taken for that day. Whether it be because of unfavourable conditions beyond my control, or simply because the photos aren't turning out how I'd pictured them in my mind.
I'd be bummed out because I haven't nailed the shot and things will only get worse because of my bad mood.
Expectations VS Reality
This is what happened for the shot above. Me and @chinocen drove over two hours to get to the sand dunes up in Stockton NSW. It was an overcast day, with scattered clouds - and they weren't even the photogenic type of clouds. The overcast light was terrible and turned what should have been a vibrant desert scene into vast grey mess. The section of the sand dunes that we arrived at looked more like a beach than the desert scene I had pictured in my mind.
Determined to get the shot we drove all the way there for, we walked for hours inland through the punishing soft sand. After hiking for close to two hours, we weren't anywhere near where we wanted to be - and the light was fading quick. We weren't going to make it.
Of course we took some photos along the way, but those photos weren't why I was there. I knew it wasn't going to happen - we weren't going to make it. Mathema-logically, a two hour hike into a sand dune would naturally take two hours to walk out of.
I had to call it. We stopped and turned around for the long walk of shame back to my car.
Almost like a cruel joke, it was at that exact point that the heavens opened up in the most spectacular fashion. The "god rays" spotlighted down through a gap in the clouds which were "ugly" only a second ago. Naturally we jumped on this opportunity as quick as we could.
Right after I called it quits, I got the shot I was looking for - the shot I didn't even know I wanted. The photograph above is probably one of my more recent favourites, and I got it because I kept shooting after I had wanted to quit.
The lesson here is clear, don't stop shooting until the very last second. It costs you nothing to keep going, and like they say: you'll only regret the photographs that you don't take.
I feel this philosophy extends beyond the single photograph. It applies equally as well to your entire photography career. I don't think any photographer can ever truly judge his/her body of work.
That uncertainty of the better photograph is something that should haunt photographers, right up until the day that they're no longer able to physically take another photograph. This is why photography is an art that you should pursue right until you're on your deathbed, because your next photo might still be better.
You can find me on Instagram @itchban