Embracing Failure

Any part of moving forward, experimentation, or exploration of new territory is bound to fail — usually a lot. I've posted a few things I consider failures here so far. They'll be more. A lot of that digital contact sheet from a while back I consider failures even though overall I think from a feel standpoint that particular work I did with Lauren was successful in moving ahead for the project.

Candidly I'm probably not failing enough in bigger ways at this point. In a lot of ways this is not a great thing, more a sign that I'm not trying or pushing. I'm being to safe with my approach, with my technique, with whatever. I'm prioritizing making a reasonable picture over making a great picture.

Think about this for a moment. If you're making work for anyone else, especially for a job you must get some sort of reasonably acceptable image in the can. You must prioritize safety, known parameters, and what you absolutely are sure will work. If not you're probably not being professional. Sure you can push it a bit if you're sure you've got what you need and what a customer wants but not really too far. You're on someone else's dime.

When making work for yourself the hardest part of the game is psychological and sometimes it's hard to fail. It hurts in strange stupid ways that really don't matter at all but for some reason it's an obstacle that takes a lot of courage to overcome in many cases. I know I'm not failing enough. I also know that failing on purpose can only get you so far. It's not about being lazy or incompetent, it's about bringing your A game to the table and putting everything you've got into something you're not confident will produce even remotely acceptable results. That's why it takes a bit of courage. It's about caring a lot without a safety net for any of your ego.

I'll try to show some better examples as I go forward but here's one failure that involves a well understood risk that's easy to see. It's small and insignificant but at least it involves just one thing that's easy to explain where I took a tiny bit of "risk" that just doesn't work at all.

When I was first starting to play with framing more abstract fragments I made this with Amanda. I don't think this works compositionally at very well, I don't really think it works in terms of what I'm after for the project and most of all it doesn't work in black and white. I knew everything about why I shot this frame as well as several others would render the shoes way too dark and not at all feel like the color version.

From the outside looking in it's a ridiculous example but at least it serves as a contained example of something that failed that had nothing to do with an accident or something technical. It serves as a deliberate choice that was outside of what I knew would work. I knew the red wouldn't have the impact in black and white. From the inside it serves as an symbol of how most of that particular session failed but that's okay. I couldn't have made other pictures that I think work much better without making these.