Just as you may experience bad hair day, as a photographer you experience a bad shot day. But there’s nothing, absolutely nothing wrong with that. Why? Because every failure is a lesson, which leads you to taking a better pic the next time.
So, here comes our new series on the blog – My Very Best and Tremendously Worst Photos Ever! No need to be ashamed. It’s a place where you can share how tricky photography can be. Check out the best and the worst pics taken by PROs, now!
Here’s a list of our brave photographers:
- Piotr Kulczycki from World In My Lens
- Viktor Elizarov from Photo Traces
- Matthew Hart from Lighttraveler
Piotr Kulczycki from World In My Lens
The series opens with Photler’s CEO – to show you that even if you fail sometimes, in the end, you can still be successful!
Piotr has tons of awesome photos, but this one is unique – Machu Picchu, the Inca citadel situated in Peru. It’s not only his best photo ever, but also our team’s favorite one. Piotr describes it:
It really wasn’t easy to get there, but the view was a great reward. The journey starts a day ahead, as you have to travel to Cusco and then to Aquas Calientes, from where you go to the citadel. And you have to buy a ticket in advance, because they only let 2500 people per day there. That’s a lot, but it’s all worth it! I had almost missed one of the trains there, which would mean a total catastrophe for the trip, but I made for the last whistle. I honestly recommend that place to every travel photographer and adventure lover!
As a beginner you may struggle with more captions like this… I took this photo in Barcelona years ago. And it’s just full of photography sins! I wanted to capture a great night shot of this dynamic and full of life city… but it turned out to be just another, poorly taken pic of a wonderful building, which certainly doesn’t deserve such a treatment. But well, now it’s my goal to go there again and try one more time! This time I’ll: set the f-number higher, so it’ll be sharper, and I’ll use a tripod and a longer exposure, to get more bright and dynamic effect. Lesson learned!
Viktor Elizarov from Photo Traces
I find that pinpointing my best photograph is a nearly impossible task to accomplish. Let me explain. As with any visual art, photography is very subjective by nature. In most cases, there is no right or wrong, which leaves everything open to interpretation. It is not uncommon that one photograph can be both loved and hated by different people. On top of that, our perception of the same piece of art can change over time.
Henri Cartier-Bresson put it perfectly when he said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.”
I only understood the full meaning of this quote when I went over the barrier of 10,000 photos myself. Looking back on my earlier photos, I realized that, although I was exceptionally proud of them as part of my photography portfolio at the time, they are actually not very good.
I also tend to fall out of love with photos I’ve taken even two to three years ago. I am drawn to my more recent work not only because they reflect my growing experience and skills, but also because they have newer, fresher memories from when I took them. Instead of trying to figure out my best photograph, I will feature my favorite photo of 2016. I took this during my solo driving trip to Utah and Arizona.
Due to the combination of poor planning and bad weather conditions, I did not have any plans for where I would photograph the sunset for that day of the Utah trip. I stopped at Zion National Park where I talked to one of the park rangers and asked him to suggest an interesting sunset location. He introduced me to Koob Terras, which is a more remote and less visited part of the park. Two hours before sunset, I found myself driving along Kolob Road towards the sunset not knowing what to expect.
Every time I saw something interesting, I stopped to take a few shots from the side of the road. In five to ten minutes, I was on my way again looking for new opportunities.
The reason this is my favorite photo of 2016 is because it reflects everything I love about travel photography: the open road, beautiful nature and a sense of adventure and discovery.
When shooting digital, there is no extra cost for every shot we take. As a result, we typically shoot a lot. I have to admit that I, too, am guilty in this regard. In 99% of cases, I shoot far more than necessary.
It is not uncommon for me to return from one of my photography trips with 3,000 to 4,000 brand new photos. By the end of my editing workflow, if I have 50 to 60 solid new photos, I consider the trip to be a success. Although, I have to admit that, with experience, the success rate improves dramatically.
All this means is that I have no shortage of bad photos. Based on my workflow, I mark all the bad photos as rejected, delete them immediately and forget about them entirely. So, to identify my worst photo is an impossible task.
Instead, I want to share my most challenging photo ever. I took this photo over 10 years ago when I was first getting more serious about photography.
I was in New York hunting for some architectural opportunities to capture with my first DSLR. I took this shot from the sidewalk trying to assemble the converging lines of Lower Manhattan into a meaningful composition. The rising morning sun created some interesting reflections on the buildings that I wanted to capture as well.
When I opened the RAW image in Photoshop, I saw a very monochromatic and dull capture with predominantly bluish tones. I wasted a lot of time trying to make it more interesting and, after a few unsuccessful editing attempts, I simply gave up and moved on. Every couple of years or so, I came across this photo in my Lightroom archive and would try again and again with absolutely no luck.
But, about six months ago when I opened the same photo by accident, I knew exactly what to do. I used my Lightroom Rapid Editing approach—the one I developed for my travel photography—in combination with my Cityscape Collection (you can download free collection here) and, in less than in five minutes, I had a photograph I was finally proud to include into my portfolio.
Photography, like any art form, is subjective and unpredictable. In most cases, you never know for sure if you need 10 minutes to create an interesting photograph or 10 years.
All we can do is keep trying.
Matthew Hart from Lighttraveler
Matthew is the very first photographer out of Photler family who agreed to join us in the series. His photo is really amazing, but we have to admit that the story behind it is even cooler!
This image is of Glenfinnan and the Jacobite Monument and Loch Shiel. This image took me over four years to shoot because it had to be perfect to represent the importance of the view.
You see way back in 2008 I was backpacking with my girlfriend Jane in Scotland and we hired a Canadian Canoe and paddled seven miles down Loch Shiel to a little Island in Glenaladale. We paddled down Glen Shiel in the most beautiful weather the Loch was like a millpond and it could not have been a better setting. At sunset that night I got down on one knee and asked Jane to marry me. She said yes. The next day the weather was horrendous and we struggled to get back to Glenfinnan.
I always wanted to capture and image to remind us of that day, but wanted the scene to look exactly how it did the day we got engaged. I went back year after year to try and capture the scene, but the weather was never quite the same. Then, four years later, we were just down the road in Fort William when the weather was perfect, so we got up early and made our way here to capture the scene as we remembered it. For me, photography is all about an emotional connection to an image and to this day this is the image I have the strongest connection to.
See? That’s the real photographer dedication! We love the story and encourage every one of you to be as passionate about your photography as Matthew is!