Photography = Failure

“Street photography is 99% about failure” said Alex Webb.

I think this applies to photography in general.

I was reading about Ansel Adams the other day and realised he spent almost half his life trying to figure out what he wanted to do. He was so confused with his life that he almost gave up photography as a profession and wanted to “move on”, just like he thought he was a musician at first and then moved on.

Albert Stieglitz, one of the most renowned and respected photographers in the history of photography, even though never gave up, he reached the prime of his creative career when he was in his fifties. Everything before that was just trial and error, even though what he produced then was and still is considered of great value, for him, it was a constant struggle.

I have been highly inspired by photographers of old times who took the trouble to “make” the art. It was more than just a matter of “being there” or “pressing a button” for them. Many many more hurdles came BEFORE and AFTER pressing the shutter button.

Going back to 35mm and 120mm photography, it is truly an eye opener. It’s amazing how photography just became “joyful” again. Yes it has its faults. Yes it has its pains. Yes it may seem inconvenient. Yes it is much more expensive. Yes it may not make sense in December 2018.

But you need to try it before you judge it. It may not even work for you or make sense to you. But it surely brought back the lost joy of photography for me.

If you ask me if I’d do it professionally? Probably not at this point as it is risky and clientele these days would not understand or want to take any risks. But for personal creativity, it is the way to go. At least for me.

This Christmas eve, even though I had been down with fever for a few days, I went out to finish a roll of Kodak 400TMY2 (120mm) that I had started earlier this December. It was mostly trees and fog, and we had just had fresh snow, so I wanted to get more trees.

The shoot went fine. However, I was struggling quite hard to get the film on the reel for developing. After a good 20 mins of struggle, I sort of forced the film onto the reel which might have caused the film to get wrinkled and some parts of the film might have come in contact. The result is as follows. Not pretty.


Like anything real in life, photography is about patience and persistence. Every step counts. Whether it is composition, metering light, or mixing chemicals. Every step matters. And if you DO IT YOURSELF, you will realise the importance of each tiny step.

Even though this was a big failure and a very expensive roll of film and chemicals went to waste, an invaluable lesson was learnt about a step (rolling film on reel) that I never thought was that important.