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  1. #1

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    Delayed gratification is killing me...

    When I sent out my latest roll of colour on Monday for processing, the feeling of "these could be great, my best yet" was particularly strong. Then the snow came and I panicked about the possibility of lost mail, wondering if the universe was having its way with me. Anyway, the negs arrived this morning, a day earlier than usual and low and behold, they were terrible, strange, "what the HELL was I thinking?" bad.

    The anticipation is always intense when I send off my colour work and during the week long wait, I begin editing the unseen images in my head, thinking about books, exhibitions, changing the world. You can imagine the downer then when I actually see them and they aren't anything like I imagined. This rollercoaster of emotions is becoming a little too much, perhaps even having an affect on my mental health. I haven't made a single picture I've been happy with for over a year and I can't stop beating myself up about it. Has anyone else had such a long span of fruitless results? I'm incredibly hard on myself with photography, but it's getting a bit silly. I've forgotten how to just enjoy it, it's like my life depends on every image I make.

    Am I losing my mind?

  2. #2
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Nothing wrong with enthusiasm.

    But, having high expectations always contains the risk of disappointment. Nobody puts out great work all the time and there are times of slump. Just put your head back into it and try again, just like the rest of us.

    Personally I had a period like this that lasted a little over a year. The trick was to simply get going and doing. Eventually something comes along that feels good, and creativity comes right back.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  3. #3

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    Interesting, it's odd that they did not turn out anything like you expected. I guess the key is to think about, and even write down what you thought the pictures would have, and how they actually lack it. Was the exposure right? The composition? Timing? Light? And then try to improve on it the next time.

    I've had the same thing myself, sometimes I'll expect great stuff, and be very disappointed with what I get back. It's made worse by the fact that the worst incident was halfway round the world, and I'm unlikely to return any time soon. But my mood changes when I see a shot I am happy with, and even more so when I don't expect much, but the shot really delivers.

    Don't be hard on yourself, learn more, and enjoy the learning.

  4. #4
    Richard Sintchak (rich815)'s Avatar
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    Delayed gratification is killing me...

    My absolute best work was shot on a roll of B&W that I accidentally switched the fixer and developer bottles so it came out completely clear. Amazing shots, I'm sure of it. Lost forever. I often think about how different my whole photographic career would have been had that roll developed properly... ;/)
    -----------------------

    "Well, my photos are actually much better than they look..."

    Richard S.
    Albany, CA (San Francisco bay area)

    My Flickr River of photographs
    http://flickriver.com/photos/rich815...r-interesting/

    My Photography Website
    http://www.lightshadowandtone.com

  5. #5
    adelorenzo's Avatar
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    This is basically the story of EVERY roll that I process or send out. Shining hope dashed into bitter disappointment.

  6. #6

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    Actually your normal. I use to get like that and then get depressed when i looked at the negatives.. I can go 6 months without getting a single image that i would look twice at, and then all of a sudden i get 3 great images on a single 10 frame roll.. It is a roller coaster but rewarding when you get that great neg.. If you process the film yourself the emotional toll will be shorter..

  7. #7
    Barry S's Avatar
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    It sounds like you have unrealistic expectations after you shoot a roll of film. Why did you think the photos were going to be so successful? What qualities were you expecting and didn't show? When I look at my proof sheets, I always ask myself why I shot each image. Maybe I have two or three (or no) images I like on a roll of 8-12 shots, but I want to know why the shutter got clicked on the others.

    There are two of me, the guy who shoots the film, and the guy that develops the film and finds stuff to print. The first guy can can get caught up in the moment, be overly optimistic, and wasteful of film, but the second guy can be a critical jerk! It works best when the second guy is thoughtful enough to explain to the first why some shots work and other don't--and suggest tips for shooting. It also helps when the first guy listens with an open mind, and maybe points out creative some ways to print some of the shots that don't look like blockbusters from a quick glance.

  8. #8
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    One of my photography mentors taught me to not lift my camera unless I see something that moves me personally. That's another important ingredient that puts us in the zone of creating from the heart.
    Sometimes it's quite interesting to take an object that we like to photograph, and come back to it many times. Taking a photograph of something that we love, and know how to photograph can sometimes help.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  9. #9
    benjiboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by batwister View Post
    When I sent out my latest roll of colour on Monday for processing, the feeling of "these could be great, my best yet" was particularly strong. Then the snow came and I panicked about the possibility of lost mail, wondering if the universe was having its way with me. Anyway, the negs arrived this morning, a day earlier than usual and low and behold, they were terrible, strange, "what the HELL was I thinking?" bad.

    The anticipation is always intense when I send off my colour work and during the week long wait, I begin editing the unseen images in my head, thinking about books, exhibitions, changing the world. You can imagine the downer then when I actually see them and they aren't anything like I imagined. This rollercoaster of emotions is becoming a little too much, perhaps even having an affect on my mental health. I haven't made a single picture I've been happy with for over a year and I can't stop beating myself up about it. Has anyone else had such a long span of fruitless results? I'm incredibly hard on myself with photography, but it's getting a bit silly. I've forgotten how to just enjoy it, it's like my life depends on every image I make.

    Am I losing my mind?
    That's why I stopped doing freelance photography, because if you do enough weddings etc. the law of averages dictates that eventually either you, the lab you use or the postal service will cock it up and you will have a disaster.
    Ben

  10. #10
    Richard Sintchak (rich815)'s Avatar
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    Delayed gratification is killing me...

    Often my excitement over my most recent forte out shooting is so keen that I'm inevitably disappointed as I set my expectations too high. Because of this I will try to wait 4-8 weeks after I shoot to develop my rolls. I'm just more satisfied this way as I've usually gone out shooting a few times since and that earlier session is not fresh in my mind. Somehow better that way,
    -----------------------

    "Well, my photos are actually much better than they look..."

    Richard S.
    Albany, CA (San Francisco bay area)

    My Flickr River of photographs
    http://flickriver.com/photos/rich815...r-interesting/

    My Photography Website
    http://www.lightshadowandtone.com

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