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How to Successfully Fail at Photography


Photography is a lot of fun. For the most part, it’s a solo pursuit where you are completely responsible for your own success or failure. But anyone can be a great photographer! Most people in the world are professional photographers now that phones are taking world-class, billboard-worthy images. If you want to stand out in this sea of photographers, you’re going to have to learn how NOT to swim. So here are some tips on how to become a successful failure in the photography age.

Let It Come Naturally

First time using a camera? Perfect! Nothing says talented like natural born abilities. Photography is all about interpretation so all you have to do is think of what you want out of a photo and press the shutter button.

No, that’s the On/Off button. Not that one, why would it be that one, it says “menu”. The one at the front where your index finger is. Yes, that’s it! OK, now just turn the camera back on and try again. Now you’ve taken a photo!

It doesn’t matter if no one else understands the meaning of the photo because that’s where social media allows you to tell everyone what to think. Just quote Oscar Wilde or Beyonce and watch the adoration flow. That’s how easy it is. You don’t need years of experience and knowledge. You don’t need to watch hours of tutorials, read dozens of books or waste your life away practicing different techniques. Just think, click and explain.

Tell others what to think and you don’t need technical skill. I thought I just made a mistake when taking this photo. Turns out it’s a masterpiece of art because it represents our distorted, yet gilded, view of reality. A balance of light and dark that our lives play out every day.

Buy the Best Gear

If natural ability isn’t your strong point then you can simply compensate with more expensive equipment. With so many choices out there though, where do you start? My advice is to look at the camera your friend has. You know, that friend that has more Instagram followers than you even though they aren’t a professional photographer. That friend that always seems to have their camera on them at parties and everyone asks him to take photos. That friend that is always smiling and everyone loves and can’t seem to do anything wrong and you just want to punch in the face!

Sorry, got a little distracted there. Well, look at that friend’s camera, then go out and buy a $50,000 50MP Hasselblad H5D-200c Multi-Shot Medium Format camera with a variety of lenses. Just imagine how good all those megapixels are going to look on an HD phone screen. Winning!

Act Like a Professional

By now your phone will be ringing off the hook with clients wanting to book your services. This will give you plenty of opportunities to pick and choose what jobs you want and demand the highest price. This is where it’s important to let the prospective customers know who is boss and that you call the shots.

No one can do what you do and those moneybags need to appreciate your talent. Put them in their place every chance you get, belittle their ideas and make them wait. People love being treated this way and they’ll begin to crave the small treats of attention you delicately portion out to them. Customer service is for lowly beggars fighting over the scraps of small-time production. Being at the top means you’re expected to look down on everyone else.

Blame Everyone Else

Nothing is your fault. How could it be? You’re the best! Look for guidance here from professional tennis players. When things aren’t going their way, they don’t accept responsibility. It’s the racquets fault. The lines person got it wrong. The umpire is favoring the other player, probably because they have the same chiseled jaw line that your friend has.

If your images are a bit blurry, tell the model to stop moving so much. If your sunset photo is grainy and too dark, then it’s time to get your camera serviced or exchange it under warranty. If you’re not getting the respect you deserve for your artist gift to the world (and it is a gift, you’re so awesome, the world doesn’t deserve you), then everyone is just jealous and wants you to fail.

Pay close attention to what others do. If you get in quick enough when you see someone do something successful then you can claim to be original. Why spend effort coming up with your own ideas when everyone else is already doing it for you?

Pay Close Attention to What Others Are Doing

Always measure your success by what others are doing. If others appear more successful than you then you must be failing. But most likely they are cheating. True inspiration can come from anywhere too. The best place to get inspiration is from your competition. If you play your cards right, you can be “inspired” by their successful ventures and do the same thing better and claim it as your own. You were going to do it anyway, you had the idea first didn’t you, but you were just too busy. So really, they are the ones copying you! So pathetic.

Just make sure they don’t see you watching and never credit anyone else. You can use a technique I call “double think”. Once you take someone else’s idea, you forget that you saw them do it first, then you forget that you forgot it. I came up with this technique in 1984, I didn’t steal it from a book of the same name. George Orwell copied me!

Let People Find You

Your work speaks for itself and the masses will be drawn to its divine magnificence. Having a large social media presence is so 2 years ago anyway. These days it’s all about mystery and shadow. Don’t engage with anyone that finds your work. This will get them talking in the real world about how cool you are that you don’t even care if anyone knows who you are. You do of course. But don’t let them know that.

Your success has blossomed naturally because of your talent, so if anyone else appears to be doing better than you, make sure you let everyone else know that they gained success illegitimately. Only talentless and desperate photographers market themselves. It’s practically bribing people to like you!

My work is good enough on its own so you don’t need to know that my Instagram handle is @kieranstoneau to follow me. So I won’t even tell you. Only losers have to promote their work.

Give Up

Photography is for losers. You’ve been doing it for 6 months and no one gets you. You’re just ahead of your time. All those success stories you keep seeing are just so fake. They cheated by spending years on fabricating their experience with time and effort. Photography should be about raw, emotional interpretation of the soul captured in an image produced by a higher powers supreme guidance. Not all this hard work and effort! It makes photography look like a job!

How are you meant to do photography when you treat it like a business of some kind? Make sure to tell everyone what you think of how shallow the photography world is, especially on other photographers shared photos. You tell them! You tell them how much better you are. Make sure you do it in a sarcastic, slightly passive aggressive manner too. Now you’ve made it!

About the author: Kieran Stone is a professional photographer based in Melbourne, Australia. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Stone’s work on Project RAWcast, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.