Following the launch success of our Blooper range, I thought I'd 'embrace the fail', take a look back over some of my early photo shoots, and give you an idea of the journey from concept to final shot - and the outtakes that got us there.
All too often we tend to hide our mistakes and put on a front of perfection - particularly in a professional setting, and even more so on social media. We want the world to see the success, the beauty, the ideal, and we tuck away the work it took to get there like a shameful secret. Much like swans, all the work goes on under the surface. But I think that's given us all a pick 'n' mix of complexes - comparing our lives to these ideals, considering mistakes as failures and failures as anathema, and worst of all, not knowing or appreciating the struggle and effort someone has worked through to achieve the end result.
I'm definitely guilty of all of this, expecting my own initial attempts to match those of people and companies that have been doing this kind of work for years and have already made (and learned from) all the same mistakes that I am now making. It's something I'm working on, trying to remind myself regularly of the advice of a very wise friend of mine:
"rewrite your definition of 'done' so that success means completion rather than perfection. Once it's complete, it can then be tweaked and evolved over time. Nothing needs to be perfect on the first try, that's what's putting you off trying."
One Step At A Time
The first step this year was to introduce to our website some of our one-of-a-kind Blooper garments; ones that have tiny imperfections in decoration that I couldn't in good conscience sell at full price, or throw away.
As the old adage goes, if you don't succeed, try, try again. But don't throw out perfectly good stock while you do it! I try to apply the same approach to all aspects of Falling Leaf, and this is why I have a folder called 'The Outtakes' tucked among my product photography.
Scroll on to see some samples from this [secret] file.
The Timed Photo
As a one-woman-enterprise, I'm usually both the model and the photographer, which requires a certain amount of timing. I'm known amongst my friends as being a master of the timed photo, but while some improvement has come with practice over the years, for the most part it's about trial and error. Lots of error.
The target (left) versus the majority of the shots on my memory card (right) - me trying, and failing, to make it to the mark in time (and look unflustered in the process).
The Alternative To The Timed Photo
A few years ago my brother kindly gifted me a remote for my camera so that I could take photos without the timer. However, I discovered during the above shoot that it doesn't work through the pockets of my shorts, or my hoodie. Which explains my odd hand position in the zoomed out shot above. There must be a solution, but I haven't found it yet!
Never Work With Children Or (Wild) Animals
The above sequence of photos shows me 1) being startled by a deer running behind me, 2) falling off the log, and 3) looking indignantly at the offending animal, wishing it could have least have made it into the shot. Bottom right is the actual intended shot, sans deer.
Never Work With Children Or (Tame) Animals
A large proportion of the product shots I take are done on our upstairs landing, on a pile of leaves or wood effect backdrop. Since he sleeps a lot, I sometimes forget we have a dog, until curiosity gets the better of him and he stick his nose right in the shot. See also: packing orders for shipping, preparing stock for markets, printing carrier bags... and so on. He very much enjoys 'helping'.
There are plenty more where these came from (keep scrolling for a couple) but to finish up, I think the moral of the story is that we shouldn't be afraid to be seen to fail - it's a sign of our humanity, and you never know, it might just inspire someone else to achieve something they otherwise wouldn't have the courage to do, knowing that while it may be hard, it's ok to make some mistakes along the way.
P.S. If you're looking for some Netflix inspiration, check out Jonah Hill's documentary Stutz for a lesson in how failing can be just as compelling as perfection (and some excellent general life lessons too!).
What about you? Do you prefer to hide the fails and show the world your perfect self? Or are you more of a 'warts and all' kind of person? Both are equally impressive in my book!
Send us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. And don't forget to have a browse of our Bloopers in our shop to see if we have any of your favourites in your size!
More Timing Fails...
Note the loss of the cap in the above shots.
...And Timing Falls
Some minor injuries may have been sustained in this shoot!