Why Bad Photographers Think They’re Good

Did you know that the worse you are at photography, the more likely it is that you think you’re great at it? It’s a cognitive bias in psychology called the Dunning–Kruger effect. Here’s an inspiring 9-minute video by photographer Jamie Windsor on how you can avoid falling into this common mental trap and actually become a better photographer.

In their 1999 study, social psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger found that people who have virtually no skill in something often rate themselves as near experts because they simply don’t understand how much they actually still have to learn.

“If you’re incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent,” Dunning writes. “The skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is.”

Windsor shares this psychological phenomenon as a warning to photographers since accurately assessing your own photography abilities can help you better judge “what work to take on and how far to push yourself.”

Here’s a quick rundown of the 5 tips Windsor gives for how you can avoid stagnating due to the Dunning–Kruger effect (watch the video to hear him elaborate on each one):

1. Beware of feeling comfortable.
2. Learn to let go of old work.
3. Ask for feedback from good photographers.
4. Always keep learning.
5. Understand that feeling bad about your old work is a sign that you’re moving forward.

You can find more of Windsor’s videos by subscribing to his YouTube channel. You can find his photography on his website and Flickr, and he also sells a set of 15 Lightroom presets.