I spent the other day shooting stock images. I didn't accomplish much. There's this one image in my head I've been wanting to do for a long time, a kind of modern techno-background.
The plan was to shoot an electronic circuit board and then manipulate it with software. An old non-working laptop was the source of the circuit board and it probably took close to an hour just to take the thing apart.
One thing I found is circuit boards aren't exactly straight and clean. Circuit boards are usually covered with some sort of lacquer which is not consistent so it tended to be noisy with how the camera interpreted the surface. I had to spend time photo-editing the trademarks off the components and then I started working on the manipulations to turn it into a cool looking background.
Well, the project was a disaster. Starting with a piece that did not photograph well or even look good is the makings of a failure. And I discovered that I was attempting photo-editing techniques of which I had no idea how to do.
It was an epic failure and a reason to be discouraged. I had attempted to do something that was beyond my level of skill and experience and I had nothing to show for three hours of work.
Needless to say, I wasn't very happy with the project.
The lesson, of course, is we all learn from our mistakes and failures. We hear that cliche time after time yet we still allow ourselves to be discouraged when we hit a wall. However, perhaps the real lesson here is to take everything one step at a time.
I remember when I first started doing stock and I was constantly getting rejections for technical reasons. I figured out how to take care of noise and how to avoid noise in the first place. Specks and spots were easy enough to take care of but some ways are better than others. I used to to cut and paste a small part of the image next to a dust speck and move that layer over the spot. That didn't work very well for a number of reasons but I was doing that because I didn't know about the clone stamp tool!
So now I've reached a point where I've come to realize there are editing techniques that I don't know about. Apparently photographing an object and trying to force it through the software is the wrong way to go about it. I tried to skip ahead to techniques that I am not yet ready for.
We are all at different levels of our stock careers and you see people all the time who are challenged to find a way through. You also see many who are discouraged and eventually give up and quit. Quitting is actually not as bad thing; there are many things I've tried over the years and found that it was not for me. That means there are different kinds of failures: You can fail because you just don't have the passion for something or you can fail because you have too much passion and try to bite off more than you can chew.
There are other types of failures and perhaps I will address those in future blogs. For now, the point is you should be trying new things beyond your current experience and comfort zone. Wherever you're at in your stock career, don't be afraid to bite off more than you can chew. Because when you do, you know you've reached the edge of your current abilities. You can't improve and become better if you never reach that edge and try to go beyond.