Focus On What’s Good In Your Images

Gerry van der Walt All Authors Leave a Comment

Do you sometimes find that, when looking through and processing your images, you immediately look for the negative?

You see, yesterday I was working through some images for an upcoming presentation and I found myself focusing on the negative things on each image –  Not sharp enough.  Composition could have better.  Needs a bit of color.  The little piece grass is too distracting.  Not happy with the animal’s pose. And the list goes on and on.

The images were not going to be posted to any websites or used for publication purposes yet my first approach was to immediately check what’s wrong with each image rather than starting off with what’s right.

This was one of them.

This images was taken on our recent photo safari to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.  It was mid day and the light was extremely harsh especially as it bounced off the light grass but I loved the scene and fired off a few frames.

As I saw the RAW file in my Lightroom catalog and almost dismissed it immediately.

The grass in front is too bright.  There is no real focus on any of the animals and I am not quite sure of what the story is.  And that all from just a quick glance.

Another example.

 Another image from our last afternoon in the Kgalagadi.

The female cheetah in front was very well fed and waiting for her three youngsters to join her.  The dunes to out west starting casting a strong shadow across the landscape as the sun was setting behind it.  This made for a tricky exposure situation as the one cheetah was in the shadow and the other ones in the bright sunlight.  Again, as I flipped through the RAW files I saw this and jumped to what was wrong with the image.

The exposure is all wrong.  The front cheetah does not pop enough.  Not sure I like the colors in the image.  And again the list went on and on.

Then I realized how stupid this approach is so I grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down with the images again.  With a little bit of TLC I quickly processed the images and in the end I was quite happy with the result.

Sure, there are still things I don’t necessarily  like about the images but that’s not what it’s about.  It’s not about the image with the least negatives.  It’s about images that work.  It’s about images that tell the story of nature – even if there are a few things that you feel could have been better.

I sometimes feel that we photograph wildlife, and then process them, to try and get likes and good comments on photo sharing sites and various social media platforms.  Or in other words – to not get any negative comments and crits on our images.

Don’t get caught on the trap of approaching, and looking at,  your images from a negative point of view.  And linked to that, don’t do it for other people.

Photography is an art.  Art comes from passion.  Passion is born somewhere deep inside each of us.  Focus on your passion and your images.

Look for what you like in an image.  Look for the reason why you initially picked up your camera to photograph that scene and focus on that when you process and share your images.

By all means challenge yourself to create better image.  Challenge yourself to better your craft but focus on what’s good in your image.  Don’t try and avoid the negative but rather go after what’s good in your images!

Be positive!

Not only will you find there are few images in your catalog you might have dismissed earlier but the process will become so much more productive and enjoyable!

Until next time.

Gerry van der Walt

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Comments 0

  1. Tom Hadley

    I’ve suffered from this exact attitude in the past Gerry and I’ve found that I make better processing decisions if I have left it at least a week since the shoot before I look at the images (and preferably have shot something else in the interim). Only then do I really judge the images on merit rather than remembering all the circumstances of the day that could have made them that little bit better…

    1. Gerry van der Walt

      Thanks for the comment Tom!  Glad to hear I’m not alone. 🙂

      Agree with you completely – waiting for a while and then diving into the
      editing seems to work really well in making for a ‘fresh’ and positive
      approach to your images! 

  2. Terry in Indiana

    I really appreciate it when master photographer’s like you show us images that have NOT been processed, straight-from-the-camera shots.  It makes us amateurs feel a lot better about our own photos.  I take photos of what makes me happy or what will trigger a memory for me, and if it turns out to be a great shot, all the better.  Photography is an art and art is VERY SUBJECTIVE… Thank you for your honesty by keeping it real for the rest of us!

  3. Marcelle

    I know what you mean. Yesterday  sat looking at some of my recent images and almost felt ashamed that I really liked one or two allot…like ALLOT allot! Then I thought, hey..why cant you be proud of those images, you saw them, you decided they were worthy of space on your CF card and in the end they came out smashing! Then I sat back and recalled the process of taking those images. The long walk on the beach, the perfect weather, the fantastic birds, the huge boats on the ocean, the amazing scenery, the fun! Thats the whole point…fun! I enjoyed every minute of it and it came through in my work…for me at least. Im going to stop critting what I do to the ends of the earth and rather start patting myself on the back every now and then because Im proud of my work.

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