Getting over the hump

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There comes a point in the growth of every photographer where they reach a ‘hump’ which appears to be insurmountable in any obvious way: you just don’t think you can get any better, no matter what you do. This may be at a very low level, or a very high one; depending on your natural visual aptitude. But it happens to everybody – it’s happened to me several times in the past. Today I’d like to talk about things you can do to move past it and up your game. After all, everybody wants to make better images, right?

Unquestionably, the first step comes in recognising you’ve hit the wall: we all know photography is mostly an exploration of human psychology – an image is as revealing about the mind of the creator as it is about the subject. If you believe you’ve still got potential to grow and things to try, then you can safely skip this article. However, if the former is true but no matter what you seem to try, nothing changes in the output, then you’ve come to the right place. If you’ve not been happy with your output for some time, don’t feel like your recent work is any better, and can’t exactly pin down why, you’ve probably hit the hump. And lastly, if you’re buying equipment in the hope of improving – then that could well be either hitting the hump or just plain laziness (which is frequently one and the same).

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Regardless of the cause, the reason you’re here is because photography is a proactive pursuit: it’s content creation, not passive consumption where the entertainment comes from the images being presented to you. You must go out, see and create, and the satisfaction derives from the intellectual fulfilment of creating something tangible, (hopefully) unique and that translates your thoughts into a physical form. Without this drive, you cannot make better images. In fact, you cannot make images at all. Understanding what drives you to photograph is also important to create more of the motivating opportunities.

Enforce a break
The easiest thing to do to feel inspired to shoot again is paradoxically not shoot. This can be done on a small or large scale. Start with carrying a camera with the intention to shoot, then telling yourself ‘you can’t shoot for an hour’ but forcing yourself to walk around as though you were shooting – inevitably, the only thing you can think about are the images you’re seeing but aren’t allowed to capture. I bet you wouldn’t have seen that if you’d just gone out gung-ho with the camera. If that fails to revive ardor, then you may well need to take a longer break – hang the cameras (and all other photographic devices) up until such point as the urge to capture returns. If it still doesn’t, then some stronger measures may be required – or acknowledgement that perhaps photography is not the best pursuit for you.

The camera might well be a device that teaches us how to see the world, but sometimes it can dominate our thinking to the point that we stop experiencing the world and just try to force a photograph out of it – this is of course completely contradictory to the point of photography. Photography is not about making an image; it’s about preserving, presenting and sharing the interpretation of a physical space, imagined or real.

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Change your physical situation
Most of us lack the time and resources to create something to photograph in the studio, let alone have the clarity of vision in the first place – if we did, we’d be successful commercial photographers with no end of budget and projects. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t drive to the next city/ town for a weekend to find something else to photograph; preferably somewhere you’ve never been before. Better yet if you can fly somewhere that actually feels different from your home city; it’s one of the reasons I personally don’t much like travelling in Southeast Asia, because the cities just don’t feel that different from Kuala Lumpur. On the other hand, unique places like Tokyo, Prague, Venice, Havana, alpine environments in winter – all feel so different that I have to deal with the opposite problem: one of visual overload. I think you’ll probably agree that it’s preferable to learn to curate in one’s own mind in order to combat the urge to have a camera glued to your face 24/7 rather than not feel the urge to shoot at all.

Seek external inputs
Our vision is a product of the sum of all external influences that we encounter: the more we see, the more possibilities we are open to. We cannot look for something if we don’t have any concept of its existence; even seemingly new ideas for the time – impressionism, for example – had to start somewhere and gradually evolve, even if in private and only shown when some degree of maturity had been achieved. Since photography is a visual pursuit, any sort of visual medium can potentially be a positive influence, whether a potential subject or end product: the work of other photographers, art, painting, drawing, architecture, sculpture, cinematography.

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The other possibility for external input is to find a mentor, critic or teacher: in short, somebody who can provide that alternative point of view, but in a dynamic and interactive way that responds to what you show them. (The previously mentioned visual media are static influencers: a Renoir will of course always physically be the same and cannot give you feedback.) Such a person should ideally be somebody you respect, somebody who can be as objective (as is possible with a pursuit that is inherently biased anyway) and does not have any personal interest in giving your discouragement. This generally means that they are of a higher skill level than you, but it’s also entirely possible that you could be learning together and not have any competitive intentions.

Learning/ teaching/ education
There is only so much we can learn on our own given the time and opportunity constraints of most photographers; however, there are plenty of people who have already put in the time and effort to learn, some of which have managed to distill this down to logical forms, and a few more still who do their best to explain it in an easily-understood way (shameless self-promotion*). You have the advantage of shortcutting the learning curve at the expense of a bit more intense concentration and faith in your teacher – specifically, their results – over the time you put in.

*I offer teaching videos on a wide variety of topics, from the complete Making Outstanding Images series now in video form, to 3-day workshops, longer masterclasses in person and of course the Email School of Photography

Focus/ minimalism
Sometimes, we are stunned into inaction by too much freedom; I’m not talking about the anxiety of infinite composition, but more an overwhelming sense of not knowing where to start. Setting arbitrary limits – if only to get your eye back in – can help; whether that’s a certain subject only, or one focal length, or one place, or even a limited number of frames – all of these methods force you to engage the creative portions of your mind to overcome them. Think of it as reverse psychology: we inherently want to do what we’re told not to, even if we had no inclination to do it before. This minimalism also applies to composition: often the idea or subject is strong enough on its own, but when the audience is distracted by all of the extraneous elements in your frame that don’t contribute to context or story, things turn into an ambiguous mess. Less is more, at lest until you know how to deal with more.

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Start a project
Taking the focus and minimalism theme a bit further, setting yourself a project – Verticality, for example – can also condition your mind into focusing on an idea and interpretations of it, rather than just trying to work around a ‘simple’ restriction. I find it useful to completely change focus when I’ve spent a large amount of time shooting to a certain objective, but not doing any work for myself. It helps me to transition between what is often a complete absence of creative freedom to an overwhelming surfeit of it.

Above all though, the pressure to perform comes only from yourself. If you’re not shooting for a client, then there’s really no reason to make photography not fun; it defeats the point of having a hobby at all. Though many of us enjoy the challenge, I’m not sure that frustration is actually productive – especially in the creative pursuits. It isn’t something that can be turned on and off at will; rather we need to recognise what stimulates creativity individually, and provide as many opportunities as possible to find it. MT

The images in this post were chosen as an illustration of doing something different – various combinations of the above suggestions were applied during their creation, resulting in a set that I don’t think I’d have shot if I specifically set out to do so. Interesting how our minds work…

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Comments

  1. ended period of “hump”. But then , after some 60 years of shooting I gues it was inevitable at some point.! Good article and very helpful to countering my “hump google

  2. Michiel953 says:

    I enjoyed reading the article; there was much to recognize for the eternal doubter that I am. It is good to recognize that creation, of whatever lowly or elevated status, does not happen in a void but always in a social context. So yes, critical discussion, “bouncing” ideas and concepts off someone else is very valuable, but it has to be critical. If it’s just praise, it won’t further my development.

    Thanks Ming.

  3. Brett Patching says:

    Really good tips, Ming. Thanks!

  4. Dwaine Dibbly says:

    I took a break of over 25 years while I took up other pursuits. That was probably a “little” excessive, but at least I avoided the awkward transition years from film to digital. I do miss a few things, like the wonderful grain of Tri-X pushed to 1000, the smells of the darkroom, forgetting to correctly set the ISO in-camera….

  5. Very clear words, and so true. Thanks a lot Ming!
    Oliver 2.0

  6. Interesting comment from Gerner, and equally interesting response from you. If this is Gerner Christensen — and how many other Gerners are taking part? — his contributions seen in the Flickr pool have suddenly emerged from the pack as being consistently well seen and well executed. To my taste, there are about a half-dozen standout contributors whose work is almost always showcase material. Your ability to develop skill in others is really admirable.

    • It’s the same Gerner – as I said, I saw an enormous improvement before and after…

      Only half a dozen? I’m going to have to tighten the filters even more! :)

      • Agreed, Gerner’s work has a clear signature to it, which I can spot amongst the crowd. Some well seen, well captured moments, and a balance between transparency of colour and processing, and knowing when / what / how to enhance for grabbing, and maintaining the viewer’s attention.

  7. You certainly are choosing the right topics for us to read. And thought provoking, as usual. This one reminds me of something I just read that pretty much debunked the related problem of “writer’s block.” And supposedly common problem among writers. When mentioned, the other person responded with “You not blocked. You just don’t know what to say.” Touché. I guess you’d have to add: “Yet.” Any lesson for photographers here? I also once read that successful profession writers force themselves to write something every day, no matter what. Work habit. Sometimes, it’s just every morning before everyone else gets up. Say write all morning, lunch, and then anything else but writing the rest of the day. Type anything that comes to mind. Throw it away tomorrow if it’s useless. How much easier this is today with electronic files. The whole point of this is that simply by continuing to write the conscious and subconscious will eventually touch on something worthwhile and inspiring. Some of this is implied by your own advice and that of others who have posted. . . . worse yet from my point of view, one of America’s most prolific playwright was asked if he had any hobbies: “Yes,” he said, “rewriting.” Couple that with the old adage that a good photographer can take any object and turn it into a good photograph. I’m still looking around trying to decide if that’s just nonsense or not. I suspect it just means giving up is simply not part of the game. So, just enjoy the journey a bit more and don’t dwell so much on so-called goals or outcomes until you reach or find them.

    • Being able to make a photo out of anything isn’t nonsense, but it does require a certain liberation in your seeing process in order for it to happen…

  8. Ming

    First up, thanks for some great articles – they’ve obviously got people thinking and it’s good to see some different views being tabled. After all, discussion is usually more interesting than consensus. My comment spans your last three articles, so please excuse me if it wanders off-topic.

    If you care about your photography then it seems almost impossible not have periods where results fall short of expectations – when your images lack that innate sense of rightness that gives them a direct line to your subconscious; at least that’s how it is for me. I can analyse them afterwards, but the initial hit is felt rather than reasoned and rather than bemoan the images that fail to grab me this way, I’ve come to accept that it’s a rare thing and appreciate it when it happens.

    I guess what i’m looking for is the decisive moment and I note your comment – “My biggest fear when shooting is that I might miss something – anything – which might later turn out to be a decisive moment” – and feel that it’s extremely valid. Having trawled through many (oh so many) rejects, I’ve seen a lot of images that lacked that decisive moment. What I’ve come to believe is that there are many times when the moment isn’t there because for that place at that time on that day it just doesn’t matter how well you compose and expose, the magic just isn’t there to be grabbed. I think it’s an important distinction – did I fail to capture the moment or was the moment never there? I guess it ties in with your comment about forcing an image out of the world; it’s the world that dictates what’s possible, not the camera – though the right tool does help.

    Those magic grabs are gold-dust and it can hurt when you miss them. A couple of years ago while on holiday, I took a photo of my then six year old daughter. For me, it had the magic, and I think it could be my favorite ever photo of her – except for one thing, my Fuji X100 decided to develop the sticking aperture problem and a bunch of images got monstered before I found out, including that one. More than any other image, I’d like to go back and get that one right.

    I can’t speak for everyone else, but my memories aren’t ultra sharp pictures; they’re a bit loose around the edges and play fast and loose with reality, but they do have a mood or feeling associated with them and maybe it’s an echo of that feeling-image combination which makes certain photos appeal much more than others.

    Regards your verticality images – I noticed some mentions of books or ultraprints. Yes, it could be nice, but some of them are begging to be printed large. XVII, London, for instance – this is a dark, menacing and uncompromising take on a subject that looms over the top of you. To make best use of that mood I’d suggest that the print should also loom over the top of the viewer and it feels like a small ultraprint or image in a book would rob the image of that presence. However, image XX – which is the same building (yes?) – takes a different approach that ditches the menace and doesn’t work so well for me. Having looked through the series several times it’s XVII that comes to mind each time and maybe it’s because – for me – it has the strongest mood which together with the image makes the largest impression on my subconscious and\or memory. Wild conjecture, I know. Never mind.

    Thanks again for your work and I appreciate the way you continually present your images and opinions for the rest of us to chew over. If I was to try and populate a blog with images of consistent quality the way you do, I’d last about three days, tops.

    Cheers.

    • The misses hurt, no doubt – but this is why we practice both technique and anticipation. And to improve we must ensure the pain so we don’t have to do it again in future. I eventually aim to get to the point of no misses…certainly not showing any, which is where I am now.

  9. Steve Jones says:

    Ming, you wrote – ” sometimes ( the camera ) can dominate our thinking to the point that we stop experiencing the world and try to force a photograph out of it.”
    In just that one sentence you have identified with all the precision of a laser, the very reason why so many of our photographs fail,
    And you clarify by going on to say – ” this is of course completely contradictory to the point of photography.”
    Well written! The photographer should orchestrate all of the elements in the scene to reveal the essence of it, instead of trying to ‘play’ the camera like a violin. Forcing a photograph shows a lack of sensitivity for the subject matter and leads to a poor result.
    Thanks for writing this article and making me re-think what I’m doing before i press that shutter button. So glad I decided to read the today.Maybe I can stop sitting on the hump now.

  10. Reblogged this on Le Café Witteveen and commented:
    I thought this advice from Photographer Ming Thein was a good reminder in the event of a photography advancement slump.

    Enjoy

  11. Making a photo goes through a process of pre-production, production and post-production. All three require different skills. I realized a little while back that when I was in a hump, it was because I was trying to improve the wrong thing. If your production skills are already much better than your pre- and post-production skills, then even working very hard at improving your production skills will not make a huge difference in the end result.

    You’ve got to identify where your bottleneck is and improve that. Impeccable production with a boring subject (because of lack of pre-production to find a better subject) will still result in a boring picture. A good concept with good execution but poor post-production will lack the wow-factor to stand out.

    Nowadays I make a conscious evaluation of where my bottleneck is, and I try to improve that situation. Up until a few months ago, it was post-production. Now I’m working on improving my pre-production. This approach made a huge difference for me.

  12. I am not the only one who experience a hump or two in life I can see ;-)

    When I read the article here there was a bell ringing about another great write. I recalled there was a stunning hobby picture taken by Ming and I also recalled it was an article about some stages photographers passes through on their path.

    I found it http://blog.mingthein.com/2012/11/07/the-four-stages-of-creative-evolution-of-a-photographer/

    At the moment the article appeared here I was thinking, oh my Goodness how I range low… that changed a bit since then and I feel contend in knowing well I’m never going to be a new Ansel Adams. I am just going to enjoy the processes that follows an ambitious mind in a late age.

    I think that article goes well in hand with this one.

  13. Whack– the sound of hitting a nail on the head. Well said in every respect.

    What I found most interesting though was your choice of photos. One of the problems that I face is “finding the shot”, meaning something “artistic” in nature. I walk around paralyzed looking for something worth photographing. Your images were beautiful renderings of the ordinary — the things one can find in any city or neighborhood. Whether you selected those photos subconsciously or deliberately, they are a reminder that if you clear your mind, beauty is everywhere.

    • Thank you. They were very much a deliberate selection (as all of the images I use to illustrate my articles): I tried to make images that would fit my usual style, but with severe handicaps – an exercise in itself.

  14. Hi Ming,

    just in time your article well-written, provoking, profound as well as reflective as always! Congrats!

    I had a bad hump ongoing until i got an uww lens and new photo printer from my wife as a present for the whole year (birthday,christmas) last month….
    Actually, i have to relearn composing/framing again somehow! It is so different due to the fact that so much is in the viewfinder and on the (printed/final) image…exciting and challenging simulaneously

    Glad to make/have new experiences….i enjoy shooting again;) So sometimes new gear or new motifs, unknown fields of photography (astro, macro, decaying places etc. things you’ve never been shooting!!!) can held to overcome and break the hump away…..

    By the way always a pleasure to read your posts excellent style and your selection of images (examples) for every article is excellent and always appropriate (meeting 100% the topic what you wanna say or show). I’m glad and appreciate to have you! This has to be said from somebody, it is one of the best sides on the web without advertisement with regard to photography (essays, interesting/provoking topics, objective reviews, asking & answering….) and actually this is achieved in your “very limited” leisure beside your commercial, paid work just free for everybody and being not your main source for your income only partially via referral links, buying and downloading your educational videos….

    PS: I may have another interesting topic for an upcoming post/article from you….”Why is every photographer looking for the perfect camera his whole life?” or “Why every photographer is dreaming of the perfect camera?” or “On the lifelong hunt for the perfect camera”. Another could be “Making the invisible visible” (content background capture things/moments that nobody recognizes/appreciates (anymore)in his monotony of everyday life/our ultrafast lifetime…

    • Thank you. I’m glad somebody notices the effort that goes into finding the right illustrative images!

      Thanks for the suggestions. To your question on equipment: there is no right camera because every situation and person is different – just take hand shapes, for instance. It’s no more, no less. And you as a photographer change too, so there can be no one size fits all.

  15. knickerhawk says:

    I was surprised to get to the end of the blog post and read that the accompanying images were representative of your efforts to “do something different.” They’re all nice images (as always) but they’re also unmistakably Ming Thein shots, framed like Ming Thein frames, subjects that Ming Thein seems to be familiar with, and processed the Ming Thein way. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that (I like the Ming Thein look), but as an exercise in hump-jumping they’re not successes. You stayed in your comfort zone when you shot these, and it shows…

    • Von Manstein says:

      Agreed.

    • Not quite, because I didn’t mention the method. And that was NOT usual for me at all. My aim was to challenge myself by trying to do things the difficult way, but achieve a ‘normal’ result. And I think you’ve just proven that it was a success.

      • knickerhawk says:

        Not trying to bust your chops on this, but I think your response is rather telling. Why would someone interested in “getting over the hump” pursue a strategy aimed at achieving the same results (“normal” as you put it) they’ve achieved in the past, the only difference being the new strategy requires more effort? Perhaps there’s a method to that particular madness, but I question whether it would be the most effective path toward improvement.

        • Well, it depends on your objective. Mine obviously aren’t the same as yours, nor is my ‘hump’ a complete lack of inspiration or inability to shoot.

  16. liramusic says:

    Another great thread here, incredible. Ok let’s see. One person mentioned the role of acquiring new gear. That can be a boast but also a bit more of trickery or my dad used to say more bells & whistles. In the music business someone called it being a “gear junky.” There are all of these aspects going on in music, like in photography. The gear… the danger of burn out, especially for very skilled and highly-motivated players. I am lapsing into the lingo of musicians by thinking players. The metaphor is of the game. What does it look like when someone is at the top of their game.
    The feeling deep frustration even at extremely high skill levels does exist. Being really good at anything does not make a person immune to feeling insecure, which is counter intuitive… if we only had that lens, all the best cameras, all the best of everything, jobs, nice messages, fame, even plane tickets and a Rolex watch, that I could really perform like never before.
    I’ve been a musician for 44 years (now carrying my camera everywhere). I have been through it all and seen so much.
    What if people cared more (or what if they just left me alone). What if I could calm my inner spirit? What if I drink more coffee! oh back in the 1960s people would wonder if altered consciousness was the golden path to higher insight. Oddly, people now seem to have contempt for that era, even musicians do. Fine then, what is the way to dial up creativity? Is the point to be way better, or is the point to be happy? My thoughts are unraveling some, as they always do, but we as artists march onward trying to still feel something.
    It’s interesting that in music there is this metaphor when a person is extraordinarily skilled; musicians call that person a monster. Is that what I want for myself, to be a monster? I think what I am talking about is increasing skill and coming up with unexpected ideas– and raising of that bar and then trying to exceed even that. Someone inadvertently said once gleefully that so and so, this one true monster (thinking of music), used art as a weapon.
    For me, aside from the schooling and painfully slow acquisition equipment, what calms my spirit and refuels my soul is to look backwards in time. I think that photography is more than just a tool to see; I think it is a way to feel more. I sort of channel back in time and think about the course of human history and that I am given this gift of this orchestra seat to look at it all. Then I see everything shouting out against progress. Not only do people want to be heard but everything wants to be heard (seen). As people we wake up each day and experience all this input as the world changes before our eyes. It’s sort of like saying to one’s self, “ok we’ll give you tomorrow and that’s it, just one more day and no more than that. Now what seems amazing and important to notice?” Feelings (as in visual rhetoric)? Tenderness. Unexpected things. Junk? Elements that whisper. I would challenge photographers by suggesting that when people view your picture they can sense if you cared. It isn’t just a matter of being perfect and amazing but this really goes for music, too. Sometimes one soft, simple long note can really be meaningful. The harder notes (meaning skill) gives it context but then this idea of really caring and then holding back. There’s is tension in that. Maybe in photography that’s like respectfully stepping in closer for a more simple visual message of just one element and so that’s what I am wondering this morning. Time to go to work now. Maybe I added something, I am never sure but that’s ok, too.

    • I think the better you are, the worse the hump gets because your own standards for acceptability get higher. I certainly find my discard rate increases as time goes on – unless you want to stay static, I suppose. But this is to be expected. The ‘hump’ is when somebody just finds they can’t create but doesn’t know why; I think it’s a bit different if you’ve been in the creative process for some time, but you just find yourself lacking a bit of inspiration – it could well be that you need new material to work with. Go through it often enough and you’ll eventually recognise when it’s the case, and of course what to do to get out of it…

  17. Sid - The Wanderer says:

    Such an awesome article Ming. I do not shoot much and have not reached that ‘hump’ as yet…but if I ever do, I am gonna come here for advice…

  18. Take up Golf with a goal of shooting an 80 in 6 months. The process will not only help you get over your present hump, but also avoid future humps…especially if you are able to even break a 90. Think of it as a new paradigm in shot discipline :) Excellent read Ming, thank you.

  19. Helpful reading as always Ming!
    Luckily the few times I had this kind of “block” I reacted naturally and did some of your suggested actions.
    Thank you for the insight!

  20. “Above all though, the pressure to perform comes only from yourself. If you’re not shooting for a client, then there’s really no reason to make photography not fun; it defeats the point of having a hobby at all.”

    I believe there is another ground between a commercial photography and photography as a hobby. We can view photography as a form of visual art so that we are artists experimenting with the nature of photographic representation. Bifurcating photography into these two camps, would be like saying Braque, Paul Klee, and Picasso were hobbiest because they were not painting for a client.

    Altogether though, a very insightful article with a nice call to action.

    • Thank you – yes, commercial work is almost never experimental…

      • Always a thinking’s man article and pictures from you, much appreciated

        “almost never experimental…”
        sometimes taking a risk can bring big rewards.

        In 1990, when dedicated computer controlled slide projection shows were the rage, we did a 7 min multi-media projection show by shooting sequential slides of city life as fast as a nikon f4 with motor drive unit could shoot at that time.
        The resulting slides were used in a 10sec segment of that show where the 36 projectors of the 3 – bank panoramic format were run at capacity speed (namely a blazing fast 1 slide per second, spread over 36 projectors gave a respectable persistence of vision effect ) to enable stop motion-like animation with slide projectors, something unheard of until that day.
        It was a big hit with the client and audience.

        The client? Malaysia Airlines.
        How times have changed for them.

  21. stanis riccadonna zolczynski says:

    Well, finally I do realize that I cant get over my hump, said the camel. l`ll have to get used to it and learn how to live with it, .

  22. mosswings says:

    This is so true, Ming. Sometimes we have to hang up the camera and experience life directly, until the curtains of craft fall from our eyes and we can see the world new again. The viewfinder can be so marvelous a device for sharpening our perceptions but yet so heartless a warden of a prison of mere observation. To capture something real when we bring viewfinder to eye, we must steel ourselves against the desire to always have it there.

    Being present with a dry period myself…MW

  23. Years ago when I was strictly shooting film with a bullet proof Canon F1 I had a friend who was a remarkable photographer. Whenever I had a roll of film developed I would always visit him to get my pictures critiqued. His evaluations of my images were brutally honest and that was great. I learned so much from his constructive criticism. Fast forward to today and I rarely meet anyone that will give or can receive some good honest constructive criticism. I look at photography blogs today and while some are brilliant, others are filled with mediocre imagines but you wouldn’t know that when reading the comments – people are just gushing over the work saying everything is just awesome. I don’t get it. Anyway, Ming, a lot of good take-aways in “Getting Over the Hump”. Thank you for taking the time to share. And, as always your work is inspiring.

    • I fully agree with you on the criticism part. I use Facebook to keep up with some people I know, and naturally enough there are some photographers (and some good photographers, at that) among them. Yet whenever someone posts a photo – even a poor one taken with a phone in the wrong kind of light, wrong WB, wrong everything – it gets blasted with likes, gushing praise and generally lends the impression that nobody really looks at photos anymore. They just hit the “like” button because it’s their friend and, well, you don’t say bad things about your friends. An acquaintance of mine (who is a good shooter) just posted a shot of the moon. A decent enough shot, but nothing that most people couldn’t take with a tripod and a tele lens. Yet going by the responses on his timeline, you’d think he’d just reinvented photography. If the kind of comments he got were aimed at me, I’d actually be embarrassed.

      As for the “hump”…I’ve only been shooting seriously for about 7 years, so I’m not really in a position to comment, but maybe a long term view helps. Naturally there are times when we shoot well and times when we shoot less well, but as long as we keep it in perspective and keep shooting, patiently and with a purpose, then we can’t fail to improve over time. Plus, our standards change too; what we would have been thrilled with three years ago, we delete without compunction now. This is surely a good thing though; it means we recognise when we have photographed to our potential and when we haven’t.

    • A pleasure.

  24. This is most encouraging reading.
    Oh yes wasn’t I just blinded in a decade long hump just until this spring where I pulled myself together and took contact to you crying out for help? How to get on with photography, take up a life long passion again not really knowing how to approach and become any better?
    Perhaps I was one of them who felt a temporary lift just jumping onto new gear and saw some better pictures coming out for a short period? Probably just because a new camera or lens boosted my attention for a while and soon after returning to my prison of not really knowing how to become better.
    It has changed a great deal now that I’ve got a life giving injection at the workshop in London. I went home totally energized and full of inspiration. Knowing changing photographic environment always is an eye opener I soon planned for shorter trips around the Europe and those are all scheduled for this year at least. In other words I have set photography high on the agenda.
    But coming back to the more daily days inspirational elements, lack of, or whatever we have…. it is reading articles like this that reminds me on the possibilities there is in an environment you are already fed up with and having exhausted the place being photographed another time or 10. It has changed.
    And hey.. how many times we haven’t just passed an interesting scene or light by foot or by car regretting the camera you just left at home? This is not the case any longer because maybe the camera really is left at home, but I got the obvious tool right in the pocket. My mobile telephone ;-)

    Thank you for this write Ming.

  25. Wonderful article Ming! Hope to have a project soon. Very thought provoking.

  26. Very timely acticle Ming. I’m currently in an extended period of “hump”. But then , after some 60 years of shooting I gues it was inevitable at some point.! Good article and very helpful to countering my “hump”

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