There are times when you need to clearly demonstrate the mastery of your skills, your enthusiasm for using said skills, and your immense creativity to get the job done. However, there are also times when you need to suck it up and admit that you screwed up.
To err is human. Of course, few of us actually use the word err in common conversation, so I’ll put it another way. Completely blowing the exposure is human. So is using the wrong shutter speed, forgetting to set the proper ISO, putting the lights in the wrong place, screwing up the focus (although that’s the camera’s fault!) grabbing the wrong lens, forgetting to format the memory card or using the wrong sync speed with the flash or missing the shot because you were distracted or because you were trying to set that custom function on your LCD panel.
And that’s just the goof ups that I made in the past week!
Yes, we all mess up, whether we’re pro, amateur, enthusiast, part time shooter, or however we want to classify ourselves. No matter how long you’ve been doing this, you’ll make mistakes and occasionally miss the shot. And of course, it’s way worse if you’re shooting on someone else’s dime, but hey, that’s they way it goes. And like they say, if you fall down, it’s because you weren’t trying hard enough. Being a highly creative photographer means experimenting, and experimenting is all about making mistakes.
However, if you try to cover it up with over confidence or slippery jaw jacking, or if you try to blame it on something or someone else, you risk the danger of coming off as some high brow who wouldn’t admit to a mistake even if it came up and stole one of his lenses.
Be humble. Be human. If you mess something up, admit it and carry on from there. Do your best to reload and get the shot the second time around. If you have a good working relationship with your clients, and you should, they’ll understand. Remember, what Samuel L. Jackson said in Pulp Fiction, personality goes a long way. In fact, they’ll like you better for it.
And if your mistake caused some kind of colossal problem on the assignment, then your client will have an amusing story to share over beers with their designer friends next month. However, if you admitted your mistake, got back on track and ended up getting the shot, you’ll end up with a favorable part in the story. They’ll probably even invite you back!
However, if you act like an over confident jerk who NEVER makes a mistake with his cameras, then you can forget any chances of returning for the sequel.
Humility also works when you’re blogging about your photography. Nobody wants to hear about what a hero you are. If the words come out of your mouth, you’d better be humble or else you risk losing your audience rather quickly. See? I started by listing all the stuff I’ve done wrong lately and, hey, look at that- you’re still reading.
If I came right out and told you how awesome I was because I never missed an exposure and always nailed the shot, even when holding the camera with one hand while dangling off the rock face, I would have lost you at “awesome.”
So go out in the world and stumble as you experiment and try new things. Just be big enough to smile and politely say “oops!” if you mess up in front of the client.