Another retrospective look at how I would do things differently, with the benefit of a little hindsight… Funnily enough, people often cite these as my most helpful posts – and Lord knows I don’t need much encouragement to criticise myself! Previous instalments here and here.
What’s wrong with it: It’s over-processed & overdone. The scene is entirely artificial – between you and me, it was a sponsored post (I was poor that month, please don’t judge me) & I had hardly any time to get this together. It’s fine, I suppose – it got over 3k likes! – but it leaves me feeling a bit empty. There’s no story, no narrative, no implied moment – and that’s what I look for in photography.
What I’d do differently: Create a believable scene. Back up for more negative space and context. Edit more softly.
What’s wrong with it: It’s blurry AF. Why did I even share this one? I’m pretty sure it was a mistake – there was a crisp, clear shot next to it in my camera roll and for some reason I hit the wrong one, and realised too late. I remember being furious with myself, but by then it had a zillion likes, so I decided to let it be. It’s a surprisingly easy mistake to make, especially when working on a smartphone – we’re so used to small-scale, low detail images, that it’s only when we look on something bigger we spot our mistakes.
What I’d do differently: Be more diligent! The lilacs were blowing in a breeze, so it’s natural that some shots would blur – I should have spotted this before I shared it, sadly.
What’s wrong with it: This picture did relatively poorly – a fact that still makes me pretty sad about life. Look at it! It’s brilliant! Isn’t it? I like it, anyway. If I had to hazard a guess, I’d blame the time of day I shared it, perhaps a lack of context in the shot to explain it, and my confusing caption referencing ‘selkies’. That, or the world is fill of idiots who prefer poorly staged cups of tea to seals swimming in the wild… ?
What I’d do differently: Post at my peak-engagement time, and perhaps explain a little better what the viewer is seeing. Choose some specific hashtags to appeal to wildlife/nature lovers, rather than my usual generic cache.
What’s wrong with it: THE TILT SHIFT. Dear God! What happened, I think, is that I really wanted to use the picture but realised I’d inadvertently captured my unflattering reflection in the french press . Did you ever read that story about the woman pretending to be a man on a heap of dating sites who got caught out by her photo reflection? That’s all I see when I look at this photo so I lamely attempted to disguise it without any real effort. My golden rule with tilt shift is, if you can tell you’ve used it, you’re using it wrong. Or perhaps better yet – if you’re adding it in post production, just stop. The end.
What I’d do differently: Delete it! This picture wasn’t worth saving – although if it has been, I *might* have considered a bit of photoshop I suppose.
What’s wrong with it: I do love this picture – but the edit & quality make me sigh over missed opportunities. Look how perfectly that curl is falling over my shoulder! Don’t my ankles look skinny? But alas, it is over-contrasty and poorly exposed. It’s too bright and too dark and grainy, all at once, and I’ve long-since lost the original so it’s gone beyond all repair. C’est la vie. *wipes a tear*
What I’d do differently: Take it on my proper camera! Oh, I love my iPhone, but back then I was on a 4S & it simply couldn’t handle the contrast of this bright sunny day. Other than that, a more careful VSCOcam edit would have helped – I think back then I was editing in Camera+.
What’s wrong with it: The light here is interesting, and the room was a gem (Orla’s old bedroom at our previous house – not that she ever actually slept in there!). I think what fails for me in this snap is the amount of contrasting angles – so many verticals not quite vertical, too many horizontals that aren’t actually level. In a shot with a lot of straight lines, I’m always looking to line up things pretty directly, especially on iPhone – I find it visually more pleasing, and it translates well onto instagram where the world is presented in a grid of perfect squares.
What I’d do differently: Line up and change my angle a little. A step to the right – and possibly a crouch to avoid blocking that wonderful sun – would have made this picture infinitely more satisfying to me.
What’s wrong with it: I’m sorry but wtf even is this, Sara-of-109-weeks-ago? The fact that you even got 80 pity likes on this is astounding, as it’s the dullest, crappiest picture in the history of crappy instagrams. I’d delete it, but it’s all part of the journey or something, right? ?
What I’d do differently: Add something for detail or interest – a crumpled magazine, tea-stains, a sleepy toddler foot. Not post pictures just for the sake of it!
What do you think? Do you look back on your old photos and want a do-over, or is your archive entirely beautiful?
PS If you’d like a slightly less savage critique of your own gallery, check out my Course for Instagram