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Most of us are always trying to make really good photos. Yet most of the time, we don’t. We get frustrated. We give up. We no longer feel enthusiasm or passion in our photography.

What if the secret to making better photos was giving ourselves the permission to make bad photos? Or more specifically — to take “shitty” photos?

Go opposite

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I feel if we want to make a big behavioral change in our lives— we need to over-compensate (in the opposite direction).

If you want to be healthier in life, don’t just try to eat a little less of bad foods in your life. Rather, try to purge yourself of all sugar, processed foods, and simple carbohydrates for an entire week. Go cold turkey. Then eventually, you will return to some moderate in-between.

The same in your photography. Don’t be so hard on yourself. If you want to make better photos, give yourself permission to take really shitty photos. Then by taking a lot of really bad photos, you will eventually get a few decent ones. And over time, you will get some good ones. Then you will eventually find a point in which you can find a good flow in your photography, and not judge your photos so critically (at least while you’re shooting).

Have self-compassion

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Don’t be so hard on yourself — photography is hard. If you shoot street photography, it is the most difficult genre of photography out there.

There is so little you can control in photography. Whether or not you make a good photo — a lot of it is luck. Being at the right time, right place, and having the right subject. Or having the right light. Or right background.

The only thing you can control is how hard you work, how often you bring your camera with you, and how often you click. Of course you can also control your timing, your framing, and technical settings. But to capture the greatest “decisive moment” requires lady luck to be on your side (and for those of us who know her, she is not always so reliable).

Assignment

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So for a week, try to purposefully take shitty photos. Don’t censor yourself while shooting. Just take a lot of bad photos, and after a week, edit down to your best 1 photograph. I can guarantee it will be a pretty good photo.

And moving forward, have more self-compassion for your photography. Don’t worry so much about the opinion of others— value your own opinion above all.

See you on the streets,
Eric

To learn more about street photography, check out Street Photography 101 >