07 Sep 10 Photographers on the mistake that haunts them the most
I asked some of the photographers who have been interviewed on the Documentary Photography Review podcast to share their thoughts and experiences in response to a series of 12 questions.
In this article – the third in this series – I ask:
During your photographic career, what’s the one mistake that haunts you the most?
I try to spend my time anticipating future mistakes rather than obsessing over past ones.
Probably more than one, but there is one thing has haunted me for a long time. It was a mistake dictated by naivety- when I worked on the ‘Widows of War’ story in Kosovo I was convinced that my story would have had a positive effect on the women’s plight. I was convinced that through the photo story exposure they would have received assistance. My conviction imbued their expectations. For months I had to fight off the feeling of having failed the women because my photo story even if published failed to move those people in power to help them. This experience taught me a lot of things.
Technical mistakes, such as double exposing a job when I was commissioned to photograph Gary Lineker (the biggest footballer at the time). It was on a roll of film which had been partly used previously.
Once I covered the arrival of Dominican survivors of a shipwreck in the Dominican Republic, and published the images – it made the front page of the national newspaper. I keep wondering if those people wanted to be shown publicly, and what impact this publication had on their personal and family lives. I wonder what they thought when they saw the images, and feel ashamed of what I did. I guess I’m definitely not a photojournalist! This happened just when I graduated from university in Photography.
The photos I lost because I didn’t have a back-up. Always back-up everything as soon as you can!
Not being confident enough when selling my stories, my work or myself.
Being part of the problem and not part of the solution (to quote an NGO’s advertising strap line from the 1990s). Sometimes ‘looking’ isn’t enough.
Not doing a business degree!
The first shoot I did when doing my placement at the LA Times! It was incredibly rushed and I was completely out of my depth with the story we were doing. The photographer I was shadowing asked me to show her my pictures after and absolutely ripped into me. She didn’t want to believe that I could shoot any better than I had just done.
Not to be patient enough – that has been my mistake and I am still trying to fix it!