Overcoming Failure / by Steven Johnson

I was holidaying in Byron Bay recently and had been out on a couple of mornings to shoot some of the coastline without much success. I got some "okay" images but nothing I was terribly pleased with, mainly due to the conditions, and not having enough time to explore locations prior.

The conditions that worked against me were some cold and windy weather, and some light that wasn't all that exciting. Landscape photography can be a frustrating thing at times as you are at the mercy of the conditions. A particular landscape can really come alive in certain conditions, and can be more dull in others. If you happen to be shooting in those "dull" conditions then you can feel like you are fighting against the elements (literally and figuratively) to try and make that portfolio worthy image. The two mornings I ventured out to try and capture some images of the Byron Bay coastline I had that feeling, or perhaps it is just that I have become a bit of "light snob" and if the light isn't ideal for the images I am trying to capture I am less than happy!

Another factor working against me was not exploring locations prior to the shoots. I wanted to spend the majority of my time in Byron Bay with the family and friends that I was holidaying with so I didn't really get the opportunity to explore possible locations before. This meant that on the mornings of the shoots I was arriving before dawn and exploring the area in the dark with the assistance of whatever moonlight there was and my head torch. This would result in me scrambling around trying to find my compositions before the ideal dawn/morning light. I have mentioned in previous posts that I like to get a feeling for a location before shooting it. This is more difficult to do in the dark and usually means I don't have a strong "sense" of the location and what makes it unique or interesting, and the resulting images usually suffer.

So why I am I mentioning all this? Well not every shoot goes to plan and sometimes I do fail to come away with worthy images. Overcoming this failure is important so in these situations I try to learn from them and quickly move on! I'll reflect on the experience and figure out if there is anything I could do better next time but most importantly I'll get back on the horse (so to speak) and try and move on from the failure. I feel it is important not to dwell on the failure too long as that can be a bit of a blocker to creativity so getting out there and making more photographs is important!

Following the two shoots that didn't go too well I decided to change things up a little and I headed to a nearby waterfall, Killen Falls. This would also allow me some time to explore the area in the early morning light before actually pressing the shutter, without having to rush around before sunrise to find some compositions. The result was that I walked away from Killen Falls with some images that I was much more happy about and the "failed" sessions previously were long forgotten.