Be a plodder

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Have you ever checked the shutter counter on your camera?

You can check using the photo metadata. I just did, and one of my Nikon DSLRs had clocked up about 53,000 and the other 33,000. That’s a lot of photos (and only my two latest cameras). But here’s the question: how many of the photos am I genuinely pleased with?

Not many.

I have to admit that I’ve sometimes considered the terabytes of data I’ve amassed – and going back further files of negatives – and wondered, WHY? Even as a professional photographer I’ve probably only sold one in a thousand images I’ve taken. And the ones I am truly satisfied with? Actually, those are the ones I hope to take next week.

But it’s in the nature of photography – particularly digital photography – that we keep trying and trying until we get it right. There’s not much point worrying about the ones that went wrong.

In other words a photographer needs to be a plodder. There aren’t too many short cuts in photography and it takes while – probably years – to develop an “eye”. Even if you are lucky enough to be born with a good eye, you still won’t know what you can REALLY do until you’ve been doing it for a long while.

So we are left with plodding. What’s the point in brooding over photos that could have been better? Invest your time in learning some new techniques, skim through a photobook by a master. Best of all: go out and take some photos.

And when somehow – against all the odds – a photo does actually turn out well, allow yourself to feel a little surprise, give yourself a little pat on the back . . . then keep plodding.

(By the way, you can use this website for find our the shutter count on some cameras