Embrace Failure: The Creative Process of a Photographer

By Michael Ampofo

Do you ever picture something in your head and try to bring it to life, and it’s nothing like you pictured it, or even worse? I feel like we’ve all been there. It’s probably one of the worst feelings to go through, especially when you have the motivation and the passion behind the vision you had. Falling short of expectations are just part of the creative struggle and I think that it’s something we all go through.

As of lately, my creative struggle has been photography. In my head I have so many photo ideas but when I take out the camera and look through the lense, I freeze up, and I find myself unmotivated. The excitement that I have moments before touching the camera all of a sudden disappears. I couldn’t give you the exact reason why, it’s more of a mix of things. I could tell you that it probably has to do with the desire to get it right the first time, or maybe comparing my own ideas to other people that are successful in that area. I’d be lying if I said I don’t try to take inspiration from videographers and photographers like Casey Neistat and Sara Dietschy.

We’re all lucky enough to connect with each other and share our creativity through apps like Instagram. We get to see great pictures from professionals to average users and everyone in between. With Instagram it seems like every photo you see on your timeline is “perfect”, solid editing, flawless angles and vibrant coloring. It’s a little intimidating when you compare your own work with what’s out there, thinking it’s not good enough and then feeling unmotivated to publish your own post that you thought was pretty good. That’s when I started to realize and accept that those people with the “perfect” photos didn’t start out making perfect photos; they went through a learning process, a creative struggle, to get to where they are now.

I think that the mindset of only putting out what is considered perfect is what stops lots of people from being creative. They compare themselves to people who are already established in writing, painting, singing, or anything in general and see that they are nowhere near that, and so they lose motivation. In terms of the arts, I feel like that might be the turn off for most people. Some people tend to look at works of art and say, “I can’t do that, I’m not creative”, but being creative doesn’t mean being artistic, it helps the artistic process and they complement each other, but those are two different things. Being creative is your ability to use your imagination and create original ideas. Everyone can be creative, even if they strongly believe they aren’t, it just takes a certain outlook and perspective, which can be taught.

So what’s the takeaway? Don’t fear failure, embrace it with open arms, otherwise you’ll never improve. With that I’ll end with this quote:

“A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.” – B. F. Skinner




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