August 31, 2007
"Most of your pictures suck"
I tend to get in my own head about photography. Maybe because it can be praticed with fairly little physical skill (compared, say, to sketching, which came rather naturally to me), photography seems to put more emphasis on one’s "eye," one’s taste. That can be nerve-wracking, making it seem like a failure to take a good shot* is a comment not only on your technical chops, but on your worth as an aesthetic being. See, I told you I get in my head about it.
Maybe that’s why I found this comment from experienced photographer Mike Johnston refreshing:
To be honest, most of my pictures suck. The saving grace of that admission is that most of your pictures suck, too. How could I possibly know such a thing? Because most of everybody’s pictures suck, that’s how. I’ve seen Cartier-Bresson’s contact sheets, and most of his pictures sucked. One of my teachers said that it was an epiphany for him when he took a class from Garry Winogrand and learned that most of Winogrand’s exposures sucked. It’s the way it is.
Whew. It’s nice to know that bad photos happen to all guys sometimes, so to speak. And as Mike reminds his sometimes gear-obsessed readers, "Cameras don’t take good pictures, photographers do." Just not all the time.
*There’s also the whole angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin question of what good is. In Ireland I’d joke, "Look, honey, I set the camera to ‘Trite‘…"