“I had another tough day at the office today dear!” Bournemouth March 2020. Samyang 85mm f1.4 lens. Lith over colour process.


 Do This to Escape Derivative Work Part 3

Success requires failure!


“Failure is a success,

If we learn from it.”

Malcolm Forbes – Publisher

In Parts 1 & 2

All I did in part 1 was point a finger in the particular direction of those who followed their vision and were thought wrong at the time. 

In part 2 I concluded as freethinking creatives to have our work described by terms such as “Oh, that’s nice dear” (meaning bland and or boring) or “derivative” meaning: copied, unoriginal, imitation, is not a good place to be.

In the final part of this series, I am going to investigate the mindset or attitude to adopt to be able to profit from our creative mistakes. We all make mistakes big and small. What is the difference between those who prosper by their errors? What is the difference that makes the difference?


“Progress is impossible without change,

those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

George Bernard Shaw – Writer 


There was dissatisfaction with the dictionaries of the period, so in June 1746 a group of London booksellers contracted Dr Johnson to write a dictionary for the sum of 1,500 guineas (£1,575), equivalent to about £250,000 in 2020. Johnson took seven years to complete the work, although he had claimed he could finish it in three.

“Great works are performed not by strength,

but perseverance.”

Dr Samuel Johnson – Writer of Dictionaries


He did so single-handedly, with only clerical assistance to copy the illustrative quotations that he had marked in books. Johnson produced several revised editions during his life. Published on 15 April 1755 and written by Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, sometimes published as Johnson’s Dictionary, is among the most influential dictionaries in the history of the English language.

James Prescot Joule

Joule was born in 1818 in Salford, on leaving school his teacher thought with training he may have had the skill to repair quill pens. He was interested in understanding heat. He repeatedly received rejections from learned societies to hear him speak or publish the papers on his theories about disproving the Calorific Theory.

His greatest problem was the Royal Society did not believe his claims of accuracy because he was about 100 years ahead of contemporary thinking. To reduce a lifetimes work into a sentence or two. After twenty years of banging on, he had a variety of random introductions to the great and the good of the scientific world. These research partnerships eventually lead to the validation of his earlier claims.

Joule was later elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) and also it’s President. His pioneering work leads to the First Law of Thermodynamics. The System Internationale (SI) Unit of energy is named after him. He displayed the courage needed to keep going when all around doubt you. Not bad for a boy who might repair pens!

Learning from your creative mistakes 


Learning from our mistakes is a huge subject so here I am just skimming the meniscus to say there might be new and different ways of thinking how to progress your photography. As always I am not claiming to know anything about the subject. Part of my job as a blogger is to plant signposts for the weary traveller to follow or not as they choose. If this subject interests you why not start your research now?

From the brief research I have done for this post I would suggest the following characteristics are in plentiful supply with those who have the right mindset to convert their mistakes into learning.

Key insights

Progress comes from the capacity to learn from mistakes. Those with a smattering of the qualities noted here will be on the right lines.

Innovate > Experiment > Adapt > Feedback > Learn

This is a virtuous circle – it never ends. The more you learn and change the more there is to change and learn.

Old Harry Rock from Bournemouth March 2020. Samyang 85mm f 1.4 lens. Photograph the light, not the landscape.


New Photography and Lifeskills Quotes Webpage

My website has been updated with a page of lifestyle and photography quotes from the great and good. Take a look, you might even find a fragment of an idea that helps you progress!


Instagram Posts Started Again

This is a true story. I was on an organised history walk in stormy Cardiff a few weeks ago. A lady also on the walk who I did not recognise came up to me and started chatting. She said how much she liked my pictures for their originality and unusual compositions. When asked where she had seen my work the reply was on Instagram.

I have not posted any new work to Instagram for about three or four months thinking what’s the point? A semi-new years resolution was to post to Instagram regularly but not one picture has arrived on the site since December. If you appreciate what a photographer is doing, letting them know is a great source of encouragement.

For any of you who follow me on Instagram, I have started posting again. I will be putting up a series of shots with a Hasselblad X Pan 6 x 17 Aspect Ratio. Maybe after that set has run its course I will go back to the standard Instagram square crop.

If Fujifilm brought out an X-Series 6 x 17 crop digital camera I would certainly buy one. This move would follow on from the Fuji GX617 and TX-1 6×17 film bodies they made years ago. The 35mm format X Pan and TX-1 was a joint venture by Hasselblad and Fuji in the late 1990s. The cost of secondhand 6×17 film bodies in 35mm and medium formats have rocketed in recent years. So there would appear to be a potential market for a new digital format. But sadly, I feel the chances of such a camera going into production are very slim indeed.

Most of my 6 x 17 crop pictures are taken on an ultra-wide-angle lens and cropped to the required dimensions as a custom crop in Lightroom.

Series conclusion

All I did in part 1 was point a finger in the particular direction of those who followed their vision and were thought wrong at the time. These people later became leaders in their field.

In part 2 I concluded as freethinking creatives to have our work described by terms such as “Oh, that’s nice dear” (meaning bland and or boring) or “derivative” meaning: copied and or unoriginal is not a good place to be.

Finally, in part 3 we see that those with the right mindset or attitude of humility, courage and perseverance can learn from their mistakes. A suggested way of thinking about changing what you do is Innovate > Experiment > Adapt > Feedback > Learn. This virtuous circle can be applied to the macro and micro (very big and incredibly small) topics in the photographic process.