Tyler’s Tips Episode 4: Why do so many photos fail?


Welcome to Tyler’s Tips.

Today we’re going to be talking about why so many of our photos fail.

Have you ever had this experience, you’re out shooting and you capture something amazing, and you just feel, when you’re shooting, you’re like oh my gosh, this is awesome, everything’s working right, I nailed it. But then when you get back home you’re looking at the computer, you’re looking at your phone, and it didn’t work and it just didn’t feel like that.

Why does this happen so often? My theory is that cameras and humans see the world in radically different ways and this is where the problem lies. Or, where our opportunity for getting better at photography lies.

Cameras see the world in a mathematical, physical way, and by physical I mean related to physics. Light bounces off of stuff, it goes through a lens, and it hits a sensor or a piece of film and it’s recorded, and that’s it. It’s very linear and predictable.

Humans on the other hand, up to a point, it’s the same. The light bounces off of something, it goes through the lens of our eye, it hits our optical nerve, but then our brain does things to it before we experience it consciously. Rather than seeing things objectively and absolutely, in a scientific sense, the way a camera does, humans experience things and those experiences are influenced by our whole life. They’re influenced by our childhood, our belief framework. It’s influenced by our hopes and dreams. It’s influenced by whether or not we had a fight with our wife this morning, or whether or not, before we walked in this room we were listening to our favorite song and it made us feel awesome.

Those all influence the way that we’re gonna experience something. And you add to that our brains are absolutely fantastic pattern recognition machines. The only way we don’t go insane is that our brains are very good at really only allowing a certain amount of information to be consciously experienced. So when we’re looking at something, or talking to somebody, our brain filters out all sorts of other things that would otherwise just be noise and distractions, and our brain turns that off for us so that we can really focus on what the key idea is.

The problem is, when we’re experiencing something and we feel it and we feel it powerfully and we want to take photo to share that with the world, or to just record that moment, if we’re not very conscious of how our brain is filtering things out, it’s really easy to take a photo that’s not gonna work because when we look at a photo we don’t do that. Our brains don’t filter all that stuff out. Whatever the camera captured in the photo, we’re gonna see and we’re gonna experience as distractions, or noise, or just something that flat out doesn’t work.

Next time you’re getting ready to take a photo because you’re feeling something powerful and it’s awesome, take a second and think about, how is your brain changing what you’re seeing? And is it gonna be the same way when you take a photo of it? Or do you need to make some different choices, like stand in a different spot, or change the composition to make sure that the photo you’re taking is gonna be in alignment with the feeling that you’re having. Because that feeling, if you can put that in your photograph, that’s what’s gonna make it really work.

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