Let it go

I remember flipping through a Newsweek while I was studying photojournalism in college, seeing an unremarkable photo and thinking, “Pshh. I could have shot that.” I arrogantly overlooked everything else that goes into being a working photojournalist and felt like I had already developed the tools necessary to work at a high level.

After more than six years on the job, I know I’m exponentially better than I was then. But the most important lesson I’ve learned in that time is just how much further I have to improve.

I see this I-could-have-done-it-better attitude pretty regularly during ill-advised visits to the comments section of sites like PetaPixel. There’s no shortage of snarky sites poking fun at the deluge of bad photography out there, perhaps none more famous than You Are Not a Photographer. Some like nodding along to posts bemoaning the telltale signs of amateur photographers, and feeling superior to those who are just trying to enjoy photography.

I’m frequently frustrated about the photos that get the best reader response on the Tri-City Herald’s Facebook page, where middling reader-submitted landscape photos burst with “Likes” while the visual reporting of interesting things in the community blend in like a wallflower.

Doesn’t anybody want to dance with this gallery of a cool charitable event?

I often wonder if some people in other professions have the same disdain for amateur attempts in their wheelhouse. Do general contractors scoff when they drive by people slapping together a fence?

It’s hard not to get worked up about stuff like this, but I’m trying to let it go.

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Kai-Huei Yau

Kai-Huei Yau

Kai-Huei Yau was a photojournalist at the Tri-City Herald for six years and recently moved west to be a communications specialist at Vertafore in Bothell. He's thrilled to live next to a great fried chicken joint, a good spot for pho and to put his journalism skills to work in a new way.

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  • Jergrif73

    I doubt that you are alone in your disdain for the amateurish attempts of others. I feel that about a great number of people that dub themselves photographers. I mean really. A person can go buy a camera and Bam!- They are a photographer? Yes, they are a photographer.

    Or better yet, for myself, a person can buys paints and brushes and a canvas and now they are a painter??? Yes- They are now a painter. But are they good photographers and painters???

    Yes, they are.

    There is aesthetic beauty in everything. Celebrate it when you see it; everytime.

    Because you really cannot let go of something before you embrace the idea of it.

    Great, honest post. Thanks for sharing.