Tommy Ku Photography

When things don't work out

I have been consciously and actively shooting photos for nearly 4 years, with over 20 cameras in my collection and a good number of disappointments. There were many times when things don't work out. For example, I was disappointed repeated by my gear purchase, the outcome of my shoot, and the overarching feeling of inadequacy that I'd never be good enough.

Gears not working out

Gears are usually the biggest disappointments, because they cost a lot of money. I have spent quite some time getting over overpriced purchase, cameras in subpar condition, broken camera, cameras that doesn't deserve to exist

Every disappointment along the journey is a lesson to learn, especially for me who like to stray off the main road into obscurity—broken, forgotten, and rare cameras.

I learned to read description carefully, avoid clear red flags, be patient (sometimes), interrogate my reasonings, and just appreciate what I already have.

If I don't buy any, these learnings are not even necessary. However when some day my dream camera appears in a good deal, then all these lessons would come in handy.

Photographs not working out

The more frequent disappointments are photographs themselves. In this field, it's important to really learn to forgive one self on these because every shot can be a favorite, good or trash, all depending on the situation and the person behind the camera. The person who bought random expired film roll that turned out blank, or knew too little about the camera.

Don't mind. Don't make the same mistake twice. Don't stop trying.

Am I a good enough photographer?
Does any of this have any meaning, if all the photos I took are just sitting in my storage, not being shown to the world?

Oftentimes there're doubts creeping up out of nowhere. There is rarely a satisfying answer, any that seemed like one soon felt like self-comforting lies.

I have shot many bad photos.

a stone wall and steps in a park area with trees and bushes around it and a brick wall and steps leading up to the top
Overexposed, camera shake, and light leak
a black and white photo of a large peacock decoration display
Missed focus
a child is playing on a playground with a yellow tube and a blue pole in front of him and a building in the background
Camera shake
a black and white photo of some flowers with a blurry background
Expired film

Every doubt is a chance for reflection, at the end of which comes learning. Without doubt and regret, learning can hardly be as indepth and memorable.

Shooting unfamiliar situation with different cameras every time is not a easy task. Straying out of the comfort zone is a rewarding experience, yet it doesn't guarantee instant reward like what people are used to nowadays.

Just like a film that takes time to develop, learning also take time. The self doubt and reflection are like the film developer, after going through the process, learning emerges like image on film, sealed for eternity.

Panorama can be shot with medium format camera, avoid red window, use camera that auto-stop winding, use tripod at slow shutter speed
Bracket ±2 stops for high contrast scene
To unroll 120 film after overwinding, do so manually in dark bag, instead of placing the roll in reverse into the film holder
That lab's preset for Portra 160 scan is a colossal failure, use a different lab

Don't mind. Don't make the same mistake twice. Don't stop trying.