As a photographer we love taking pictures and if we share it in any way we are proud of our work. It is nice to get compliments, however to get better one needs an editor who will look at the pictures from an editors perspective.
I am my own worst critic and many great pictures would have been dismissed if they had not been saved by the editor for my personal work and landscapes. Doing this with my wife is fun and helpful. The biggest reviews are however from my paid assignments. Every week I shoot one to 2 assignments in many cases with other photographers.
Usually I turn in 60-200 pictures. 200 may seem large but it is not when you have a very long list of different things to captures : from fan emotions, to details, action, …..
Every week 8-12 pictures get selected.
A very tough process when 6 photographers are competing for these slots.
We are all doing our best to get as many pictures as possible on the spread and for other uses of the picture.
Doing this every week at least once is really hard often my favourite shot does not make the cut, I also discovered shots I had taken, but not really seen as that great, making it to the cut.
There are a few things I have learned: Nobody cares about what it did take to get the picture, technical details are not important (but the clients loves when I shoot with the 600mm), take risks, be different, try new things, have a different eye, get better or the others will for you. From the experience I am taking less pictures. More pictures with intent and focus for what the client will need. All the pictures can be important to tell the story (try to know the stories before the assignment).Having total freedom we can experiment everything we want and fail miserably, only our ego will get hurt.
Sunday I did shoot a Rugby game and the favourite picture for the editor was the following
No big comments ! A simple e-mail with the title “Stunning” and a thumbnail of the picture. These are among the best e-mails to get, off course beside the one’s saying that my bill’s have been paid, or we get new interesting assignments. Every time I get an e-mail to confirm that my picture has been selected for a poster or billboard, or any other special task is a pleasure.
It is not the best action shot, there are plenty of empty seats (It is hard to get a crowd when the stadium has 30,000+ seats and less than 1,000 attending). It does show one of the team sponsors has lots of negative space, … Was it my personal favourite ? Probably not but I did take it with a clear purpose on how the client would use it.
Here a selection of 3 actions of the same game
When I did the edits I liked the 2nd and 3rd quiet a bit for the action. The client selected picture 1. I agree with that selection. Very tight little distraction and close to the action (actually almost too close).
My recommendation to any photographer who want’s to get better. Get an editor, there are many ways to do it take somebody you respect for their artistic choices, ideally not a photographer, hire an editor, or shoot for somebody who pays and selects the shots. It is tough, some of the comments hurt. Pictures you did take weeks to plan will be thrown out, some almost random snapshots will make it to the top of the list. When it all settles you will take better pictures, pictures people are more interested.
My last key Message “Remember to have fun, gear and unhappy people don’t take great pictures, happy people who work hard and take risks take memorable pictures!!!”