When I started shooting film with a Holga 120N, the film and processing costs were considerable, so I expected to have a high hit rate, ie the number of photographs that I was happy with, proud of and wanted to share.
This didn’t happen.
It’s unrealistic to expect such a primitive, and often unpredictable camera, to deliver time after time, even if every composition you present it with is a masterpiece (which they certainly weren’t).
With 35mm film – and especially with SLRs when I had extensive control over how the images would look – again I expected to have a decent proportion of keepers. Perhaps 12 out of every 36 exposure roll of film I shot.
Even with the vastly improved control of an SLR compared with a Holga, the superior optics and objectively more consistent performance, I was still disappointed that I was often nowhere near my one out of three success rate. Sometimes not even a single frame from a roll of film was worth sharing.
Again, in retrospect, there is still considerable inconsistency with 35mm film, plus my skills and vision as a photographer were not (and are not) sufficient to meet this ultimately unrealistic expectation.
I often write blog posts in the evening, between the time the kids go to bed and the point at which my wife and I retire, usually around two or maybe three hours later.
I often expect to be able to sort through a batch of photos, upload the best to my Flickr, write (or at least the first draft) a new blog post, enjoy a final snack, and have some quality time with my wife in this time.
A sizeable blog post probably takes me a couple of hours to write, and another hour to edit and add photos. This alone I would struggle to fit into the time I’m allowing, let alone the other things I want to squeeze in.
Again, my expectations are way off what’s realistic.
I recently bought a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3, which I’ll post a review of here soon. It’s been on my wishlist for the longest time, and I hoped it might be my ideal camera.
Shock horror, it’s no better than my “holy trinity” of the Ricoh GX100, Ricoh GRD III and Pentax Q, and in some ways I like the Lumix less.
For other reasons, I’d rather pick up either of my recent 4MP acquisitions, the Sony DSC-L1 or Olympus C-4040, which cost me about one eighth and one quarter of what the LX3 did respectively.
The Lumix hasn’t set my photographic life alight, or suddenly made my photography world class. I’m not sure quite what I was expecting from the LX3, but again it was beyond what the reality has transpired to be.
As you can see, there’s a pattern here, and a lesson to be shared.
If you expect too much, you will always be disappointed.
The danger then is that this disappointment overshadows what you actually have experienced and gained and enjoyed and achieved.
All you focus on is the hole in the middle of the donut, rather than the tasty bit with plenty to get your teeth into.
One area where I do feel I’m on top of this now is with my hit rate expectations.
With any photowalk, whether I make 12 pictures or 120, if at the end I have just one photograph that’s a keeper, I’m happy.
Half a dozen, and I’m dancing in the streets until 3am or when the neighbours call the police again, whichever comes sooner.
I plan to continue to try to manage my expectations better in other parts of my photography life.
Like thinking there is one perfect camera.
Or believing that I can write, edit, add images to and publish a new blog post in 30 minutes.
How about you? How often do you feel disappointed with your photography in some way, and that it’s fallen far short of your expectations? What can you do next time to be happier with the outcome?
Please share your thoughts and experiences with us below (and remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography life looks like right now.