Being embarrassed by your previous efforts is healthy

If you’re at a cross-roads with your photography, or perhaps just feeling unsatisfied with what you are doing, then don’t worry. It’s not only natural, it’s also very healthy.

Being unsatisfied with what you do, is often a sign of growth. Congratulations are in order. You have moved on and the things you once thought were good, are no longer good enough.


The Dunning-Kruger effect explains how we assess our abilities as we become more experienced. In a nutshell: it shows that when we have no experience, we tend to over-estimate our abilities, and as we gain experience, our confidence dips before it starts to climb.

There is a point in the graph where our confidence in our abilities is at its lowest: once we have gained some experience. This is the time when most of our efforts tend to suck. We find we are seldom happy with what we are doing, and all because we’re more aware. Where we once thought we knew a lot, we now realise we still have a lot to learn.

The old saying ‘if only I knew then, what I know now’ describes this period best.

We all have to go through a period of knowing little (in the illustration below it’s called the peak of ‘mt stupid’). And we all have to go through the period of despair - a time when we realise that we’re not as good as we thought we were. And we all go through periods of enlightenment : we see a way forward.

Progress is hard. Having moments when we think we suck is natural. You have to have the lows to have the highs. If you have the lows, it means you are improving, because it means that what you once thought was good, is no longer good enough. Bad times pass, and are often the precursor to new growth in your photography.