I’ve always believed the best way to get better was to judge yourself.
I know what I’m good at and I know what skills I lack. Knowing this, I try to avoid committing to things I do not feel I will produce what is needed.
Normally I take what I know I lack and practice my butt off to make myself better. This year I had two very special people ask me to photograph their graduation portraits. These are assignments I generally turn down. I’m better at capturing a moment and a scene, not posing a subject repeatedly.
I tried to convince both that there were better people and my feelings would not be hurt if they chose someone else. They refused and we went through with the shoots.
It felt strange to me when the shoots were done and limited complaints came in.
I liked very few of the 15 plus photos I gave both. I critiqued the heck out of every photo I gave them.
The only real complaints I had were from outside people, not the subjects themselves. People they sent the photos to and had their own opinions. While those outside opinions were also important, I cared less about them than the thoughts of the people in the photos.
I love both of these people in very different ways and to have both of them appreciate what I thought was barely acceptable work made me think differently about how I photograph someone.
The photographer’s eye may point out every single imperfection, but really what we should all be looking for is what the person asking for photos wants.
A photographer can turn down every photo because they think it isn’t perfect, but the love of a photo comes from more eyes than one.