This doesn’t just concern photographers – it’s something we all have to contend with.

My daughter was painting on a huge piece of paper, taped to the kitchen floor. Completely absorbed in what she was doing. Just letting her imagination guide her hand. A sun and flower appeared. The sun became a castle. “Can I have some sparkles to use as rain” she asked. There was no doubt in her mind. No worry about what others might think. No concern about failure.

Basking in our successes we discard the images that don’t work. Forever to languish “un-rated,” – no star, number or colour applied. Deleted. Sheets of film that fail the lightbox test; kept in the “box of shame.” Binned. Creative failure placed out of sight. I don’t show anyone. I have nothing to be ashamed of. Furtively hiding these away. Only the best reserved for public viewing. Where did this come from?


Curving, Horsell Common

Curving, Horsell Common (Pentax 645z FA45-85mm)

Out on the hunt again. Full of optimism and glee. A certain location to visit. An old favourite perhaps. A project to continue. Maybe something new? I have the inside edge. It is “the” spot. The light looks amazing. The weather is what I ordered. Stalking the image, caressing it into shape. I feel good…optimistic. Pouring oneself into that moment. Ignoring the “successes.” Forgetting the ones that got away. Dismissing those unloved failures. Shutter released. That’s it!

It begins. That curse – the digital preview. That anxiety – it’s film, I have to wait. Standing, focusing on what is in front of you. The eyes go slack and my mind wanders. That “in the moment” moment lost.

That voice; doubt, Insecurity. Infuriating.

“How about over there” the voice whispers. So softly. “It wont take a minute” so soothingly said. “Have a look? You don’t want a failure do you?”

The other voice counters; now rational, logical. Still Infuriating!

“Failures are a guide for future successes.” “Learn from your mistakes.” “Relax and enjoy the moment,”

Shut-up Yoda!


“It’s a castle and a flower, Daddy”

But that’s the problem. It’s easy to say that I aim for calm. Or search for silence. Sometimes, I just can’t help but think that I am creating failures. Sometimes, it’s hard to create without the words entering my mind “what will others think?” I often wonder if winning competitions, holding exhibitions or gaining some moderate success comes with a price? That nagging need to keep achieving. Keep creating.

In the end my question is this: why do we loose that ability we all had as children…to create without care?

Sign up to my once a month newsletter. Each month, one lucky subscriber will be chosen at random and receive a free 10×8 print of their choice!

[newsletter_signup_form id=1]

No spam ever