If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Whenever I see a photo that has an effect that I’ve not seen before, I usually make a mental note to try replicating it somehow. When I first saw photos that looked like they were taken in motion, I wanted to see if I could take photos like that as well. One of the advantages of photographing New York City is that there’s always something going on and usually something is moving.

Taking a shot of a car that’s moving and trying keep it in focus so that only the background is blurred is pretty difficult. In fact it took me a long time to get the shot I’m sharing here, and I’d be the first to admit that it really could be a lot better. Even though it took me roughly 45 minutes to get this one semi-decent shot, I don’t feel that it was time wasted. Instead, I feel that I learned enough from my mistakes (and I made a whole lot) that when I go and try this again, it won’t take nearly as long to get a shot much better than this.

Don't give up on things too early, you might miss out on something big.
Don’t give up on things too early, you might miss out on something big.

It would have been really easy to give up after the first couple of attempts and move on. I could have moved on and went somewhere else to take photos and left this sort of thing to the professionals. But I didn’t, I kept trying. Instant gratification seems to be the theme nowadays. If something doesn’t work right away, we ditch the idea and move on to something else. When the new method or idea doesn’t work right away we move on from that. We expect success much too soon and way too often.

This sort of thing can lead to frustrations very early on as the constant little “failures” seem to pile on. It can also lead to the pursuit of “low hanging fruit” all the time, which might satisfy the need for immediate success, but ignore the big picture. In my opinion, failure is not a bad thing if you learn from your mistakes.
You might call a 45 minute block of time with only one photo show for it a failure, and I might be inclined to agree. But it allowed me to expand my skill set and become a better photographer. That’s a success in my opinion.

You can finish the phrase “If at first you don’t succeed” any way you want. I would just recommend against finishing it with the word “quit”.