Four things that I have learned from failure

There are few things worse than looking down at your camera and realizing that you shot the majority of a shoot as jpgs instead of raw.

Let me explain…

A few weeks ago I doing a fashion shoot at Pike Place Market here in Seattle. We were almost done for the day and about to wrap when I looked down at my camera and realized that I was shooting in jpgs instead of raw. My heart skipped a beat as my brain tried to figure out how this could’ve happened and how much of the shoot was affected by my mistake. In this moment I felt like the shoot was a waste and I didn’t know how much of the shoot I could recover when editing the images later.

Failure is something that we rarely talk about. To be honest, I’m embarrassed to be talking about this right now. However, I think it is important to share my mistakes and what I have learned so other photographers and creatives can avoid these same traps.

There were a couple of things that I learned from this shoot:

  1. Know Your Camera
    You are the professional and as the photographer you are expected to know EVERYTHING about your camera. It is not your assistant’s job and especially not your clients job to have the answers. You are the expert, act like it.

  2. Remain calm
    Mistakes happen. You are human after all. However, it is important to remain calm and handle the situation like an adult. It doesn’t matter if you are being paid or if you are doing a TFP shoot. People expect you to behave like a professional.

  3. Learn and Move On

    The biggest thing I have had to learn in my career is that things are never going to be perfect. You are going to always be left with this feeling of wishing you would’ve done something different. In many ways, this is my favorite part about the creative process. It keeps things fresh and allows you to have a new perspective when you approach your work.

  4. It’s not the end of the world
    Repeat after me. It’s not the end of the world. It is important to keep things in perspective. You know you may have messed up but chances are people will have no idea. Was gear stolen or were people hurt or killed? Things are going to be ok and work out if the answer is no.

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Now back to the shoot. Surprisingly, things worked out great during this shoot and I have made some of my favorite images of 2018. Yes, there was a moment where things weren’t going right. However, it is important to realize that the only way to get better at our craft is to make these mistakes and take risks. You are never going to grow as a professional if you don’t get outside and shoot. The same can be said about any other form of art or expression.

I hope this left you inspired. Now get out there and bring some awesome work to life.

-RJL