A photo of a model with eyes blind folded

Why Publishing Your Bad Photos Is Never a Mistake

There’s no way around it. If you want to create a successful photography blog you need to post incredible photographs. Take a look at our Editor’s Picks. These blogs all share something in common; the imagery is fantastic. However, the purpose of this article is to tell you that it is okay to photoblog about your bad photos. In fact, doing so will improve your photography, blogging, and who you are as a person. That sounds strange in this day and age where every photo is perfectly photo shopped and filtered but hear me out on this.

1. Your Readers Appreciate and Relate to Honesty

One of my favorite blogs belongs to Canadian Photographer David Du Chemin. The content is rich; the images are inspiring, and I can learn something that helps me with my photography. Isn’t that exactly what we want from a blog? Absolutely, but I think the one thing that draws readers in the most is his honesty. He speaks from the heart and is not hiding his bad photos and mistakes. We gain insight into his thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams.

Consider this quote from one of David’s most recent blogs.

“I don’t believe there’s a secret to life. Life is meant to be lived, not figured out. I’m happy now allowing others with the inclination to do so, to find the “answer to the meaning of life.” I think we make that meaning. Our contributions, the way we live and love and react to the tides of time and circumstance. That’s what gives meaning.”

It’s honest commentary about life, happiness and the process of creation. The reader will feel like their time spent reading was worthwhile. If you’re interested here’s the link to the whole entry.

One of my bad photos where one element, a bridge, is too close to the edge.
I was so focused on the interesting rock formations I didn’t frame the bridge properly in the image. Photo By: Erin FitzGibbon

2. Reflecting on Bad Photos Help You Grow as a Photographer

By its very nature blogging forces us to look inwards. Talking about bad photos lets us analyze our methods. It let us look back and take stock of our actions that lead to bad photos. Why did we choose to shoot from that angle? How could we have improved our composition? What was my goal in creating this image and why did I not achieve my goal? All of this can only help us to grow and become better photographers.

This is cute but the angle doesn't create visual impact. Photo By: Erin FitzGibbon
This is cute but the angle doesn’t create visual impact. Photo By: Erin FitzGibbon

3. Reflecting Upon Errors Can Lift You out of a Rut

We’ve all been there. The creative juices just won’t flow. You are struggling to find direction and inspiration. Nothing is working. Embrace the struggle and the moment. Actively write about these moments of struggle and why you are unhappy with your photos. Dig at the roots. What is holding you back? Photoblogging can be cathartic. Take advantage of this fact and roll with the punches. Don’t be afraid to show your vulnerability. Your audience will appreciate it, and they might even be able to assist you with your struggles. Make sure to invite others to share their experiences and how they overcame these struggles. Ask them what would they do differently in your shoes. We as humans relate well to empathy, it is a powerful way to make friends and loyal followers from your readership.

A photo of a model with eyes blind folded
Sharing your bad photos can lift you out of a photographer’s block

4. Your Audience Applaud You for Being Courageous

Taking risks and putting your bad photos out there as a vulnerable human being can help define your online persona. It can show readers that even the exceptionally talented are fallible. This can endear your readers and also inspire others to face setbacks head on. Blog about your bad photos but include ways to grow and improve when you do. Being negative is never a good idea but acknowledging the negative and pushing past it can engage and inspire others to do the same. It’s all about growth mindset. Errors are not really errors they are opportunities to learn and when approached with a positive mindset we can only improve as photographers. Lots of professionals see errors as a way to move forward. Check out this post from photographer Lisa Blateny where she shows examples of her bad photos and talks about what she learned from each one of them.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10 00 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

An example bad photo where lens flare is too much
There’s such a thing as too much lens flare!

5. Blogging About Bad Photos Can Help Define You as a Mentor

Blogging about your bad photos can help others to learn. Discuss where you went wrong, consider solutions and always find the positive in each situation. Others will start to see you as a mentor. They will see your ability to overcome challenges as a sign of your skill and knowledge. There may be those who treat you harshly for publicising bad photos but most will appreciate your candor and will look to your advice.

An image of two girls with "you're amazing" sign
This one doesn’t have a wide enough depth of field. Photo By: Erin FitzGibbon

6. It Can Establish You as a Skilled Photographer

Let them glimpse the life and the grit it takes to make it as a photographer in this competitive world. Not every shoot will go smoothly. The truly talented photographers are able to rise above the challenges and create “amazing” even when the circumstances are less than ideal. Show them the images that didn’t work and how you made a bad situation salvageable.

7. It Will Create Variety and Interest for Your Readers

A blog that always shows how incredible your photos can get boring too quickly. It becomes a regular brag session. You have to brag sometimes, but people will quickly become bored with the same old. They want to be amazed by your efforts and your thoughts. Show them something different from time to time. Keep their interest up by providing rich content. Offer quality, not just quantity. Think about it. How long do you actually spend reading posts entitled “The top 15 landscape Photographs of 2016.” Maybe you ogle the photos for 5 minutes and then you move on. Take a look at this video blog by Sean Tucker. You can learn an awful lot more about photography from great content like this then you can obtain from a top 10 list.

Fight the Fear and Post Your Bad Photos

When you first start to post articles about your bad photos, it can be nerve racking. You are after all making yourself vulnerable. There be will those who criticise your work. There will be those who jump down your throat and say something like “you should have known better.” The simple response to these critics is “You’re right. I should have known better but given the situation… I made a mistake.” Being able to admit mistakes shows confidence in your abilities. It shows grit when you rise above these challenges and makes the creative process all the more authentic.

Let me leave you with a quote from one of my mentors. She’s amazing… Some of you might know her and love her too. She’s not a photographer. She’s not even a real person, but I think that anyone can benefit from her words. Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.

If you’ve ever watched the children’s show The Magic School Bus you will have recognized this quote. Thanks, Ms. Frizzle. You’ve inspired a generation of risk takers, learners, explorers and one very dedicated photographer.

I will post one success in this article. This one was accepted into the Ontario Society of Artists Emerging Artist Juried Exhibition. Photo By: Erin FitzGibbon
I will post one success in this article. This one was accepted into the Ontario Society of Artists Emerging Artist Juried Exhibition. Photo By: Erin FitzGibbon

Feel free to post your bad photos in the comment section below. Discuss what went wrong, what would you differently, or simply ask for critique. It can only help you grow as a photographer!

[easy-subscribe design=”design2″

About the author

Erin Fitzgibbon

Erin FitzGibbon is a Portrait, Sport, Fine Art Photographer and Writer from Ontario, Canada. When she's not taking photographs or writing articles she loves to escape to the backcountry for week long adventures with her family.

Send this to a friend