Frustrations, part 13: Unproductivity

eastern tiger swallowtail Papilio glaucus feeding from phlox
First off, I have to mention that I have apparently neglected the numbered Frustrations posts; while number 12 was way back when, I actually have 68 posts now in the ‘Frustrations‘ category. This might seem like a lot, but there are over 1,450 posts now, so that’s less than 5%. Still, yeah, I’m a whiny little bitch.

This image isn’t a frustration by itself, but an incidental one because it’s one of the very few that was even worth saving, from an outing not too long ago. While the outing was brief due to a threatening thunderstorm, I was in the NC Botanical Garden, by nature a good place to get photos, and somehow wasn’t on my game (I really need to stop using sports metaphors given how much I detest sports.) Editing the results afterward, I found far too many not passing muster (there: war metaphors, much better.) And since this was one of the few times that I got out recently to dedicate to some shooting, due to weather and schedules and all that, it’s a bit annoying and disappointing not to produce more than I did.

It’s one thing to find too few things to photograph – that, I’m cool with, and on occasion even take it as a challenge to find something that I can make work. No, this time around, I shot an acceptable number of images, but most of them didn’t come up to minimal standards and were discarded. Framing, focus, lighting, whatever – just not cutting it (I have no idea what that metaphor originally meant.) That’s the kind of thing that makes you doubt your skills, at least to some extent. The photographic results, I mean, not the metaphor.

For the most part, I view this as, “Hey, it happens,” but there remains the nagging idea that I should have done a lot better. This may not be a bad thing, since it promotes a drive to improve, which I consider necessary. But yeah, until I come back with a collection of really bankable images, I’m going to mutter and fret a bit.

Just writing this makes me aware of the arbitrary distinctions we make, the lines and categories and all that. For instance, I keep track of the number of images that I upload per month, and per year, and compare them idly – I feel proud when I’ve exceeded some previous sum, but I try not to be motivated by that, because I suspect it can lead to posting crap just to increase the numbers (or, you know, already has.) But at the same time, what does it matter happened between September 1 and September 30? What particular distinction is “a month” or “a year?” How much would it change if I did something like a fiscal year instead, July 1 through June 30? Who cares? The important bit (to me at least – hard to argue that it has any importance in the big picture) is that I get images that I, and hopefully others, think are pretty cool. I don’t need a quota of any kind, even when I’m sure it helps to always keep building up. Maybe this year isn’t going to be “as good” as last year. That’s okay – the future holds promise.

And for anyone that might find themselves in the same frame of mind when it seems that you aren’t performing as you should, it can help a lot to go back through older images and compare the progress and improvements that you’ve made since then. Even the bad images are a learning experience; even the frustrations are motivations to improve. These had an effect on you then, and are still affecting you now.

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