Documentary Photographers share their experiences

10 Photographers on the mistake that haunts them the most

I asked some of the photographers who have been interviewed in the Documentary Photography Review podcasts to share their thoughts and experiences in response to a series of 12 questions. (You can read the responses to last week’s question, and sign up to the DPR newsletter to be kept informed of future articles.)

This week – the third week in this series of articles – I ask:

During your photographic career, what’s the one mistake that haunts you the most?

[divider]Lewis Bush [/divider]

I try to spend my time anticipating future mistakes rather than obsessing over past ones.

Lewis Bush
I shoot, write, talk, curate, and teach about photography, journalism, history and art. Lecturer at the London College of Communication and run the Disphotic blog

[divider]Cinzia D’Ambrosi [/divider]

Probably more than one, but there is one thing has haunted me for a long time. It was a mistake dictated by naivety- when I worked on the ‘Widows of War’ story in Kosovo I was convinced that my story would have had a positive effect on the women’s plight. I was convinced that through the photo story exposure they would have received assistance. My conviction imbued their expectations. For months I had to fight off the feeling of having failed the women because my photo story even if published failed to move those people in power to help them. This experience taught me a lot of things.

Cinzia D'Ambrosi
Photojournalist and documentary photographer. My photography work is motivated by my desire to investigate, expose and stimulate public response seeking the potentials to change a path, to modify a legislation, to tell a story otherwise untold.

[divider]Jonathan Goldberg [/divider]

Technical mistakes, such as double exposing a job when I was commissioned to photograph Gary Lineker (the biggest footballer at the time). It was on a roll of film which had been partly used previously.

Jonathan Goldberg
I am a London-based portrait and documentary and documentary photographer with 20 years of experience. In between my regular portrait and documentary commissions I undertake personal projects relating to issues that I'm passionate about.

[divider]Ingrid Guyon [/divider]

Once I covered the arrival of Dominican survivors of a shipwreck in the Dominican Republic, and published the images – it made the front page of the national newspaper. I keep wondering if those people wanted to be shown publicly, and what impact this publication had on their personal and family lives. I wonder what they thought when they saw the images, and feel ashamed of what I did. I guess I’m definitely not a photojournalist! This happened just when I graduated from university in Photography.

Ingrid Guyon
I have lived and worked as a photographer, community worker and photography facilitator in London since 2001 and graduated at the London College of Communication and Social Anthropology in 2006.

[divider]Eduardo Leal [/divider]

The photos I lost because I didn’t have a back-up. Always back-up everything as soon as you can!

Eduardo Leal
Eduardo Leal is a Portuguese freelance documentary photographer focusing on Latin America social issues and politics and Portuguese traditions.

[divider]Claudia Leisinger [/divider]

Not being confident enough when selling my stories, my work or myself.

Claudia Leisinger
At present I work as freelance portrait and documentary photographer, based in London. I have had my photos published in the Guardian, the Telegraph Magazine, the Big Issue, the NZZ newspaper and the Foto8 website, amongst others.

[divider]Tim Mitchell [/divider]

Being part of the problem and not part of the solution (to quote an NGO’s advertising strap line from the 1990s). Sometimes ‘looking’ isn’t enough.

Tim Mitchell
Tim works as a photographer, artist and educator taking on photographic commissions, workshops and teaching within the UK. Often working collaboratively, his projects document our relationship with our surroundings.

[divider]Hannah Mornement[/divider]

Not doing a business degree!

Hannah Mornement
Originally a painter, Hannah Mornement is now a freelance documentary and reportage photographer, currently based in Brighton. Hannah has focused on people, places and humanitarian issues and has had over 10 years experience within the humanitarian and development sector.

[divider]Lucy Piper [/divider]

The first shoot I did when doing my placement at the LA Times! It was incredibly rushed and I was completely out of my depth with the story we were doing. The photographer I was shadowing asked me to show her my pictures after and absolutely ripped into me. She didn’t want to believe that I could shoot any better than I had just done.

Lucy Piper
Editorial & Documentary Photographer based in South-west UK

[divider]Roberto Zampino [/divider]

Not to be patient enough – that has been my mistake and I am still trying to fix it!

Roberto Zampino
I am a Sicilian photographer and filmmaker. I have been based in Italy, Cyprus and London working as a freelance photographer, commercial and photography teacher.

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