I’m not sorry

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I was scrambling for my camera when I first saw this young Rocky Mountain Sheep reaching up to lick a rock. It managed to keep its body so close to the rock wall in perfect balance.

I am here to say I’m not sorry … or at least I’m trying really hard not to be!

Why? Being sorry at the wrong time can have unintended consequences. Here’s two examples.

I am excited to hear a presentation only to have the speaker begin with an apology (or three) about not really being qualified or hoping people aren’t expecting too much. The energy gets sucked out of the room and I just want to leave immediately!

I start reading a blog that begins with a disclaimer about a hectic life that has made this particular post late or the author had limited time to write it. The unintended message I get is to quit reading this inferior post immediately and don’t go to the next paragraph!

The handy thing about other people making mistakes is that I can learn from them. Therefore I decided long ago to make my blog an apology-free zone.

If I feel obliged to say a photo could be sharper or better in some way, I either don’t post it or learn to live with it. In theory that should be quite easy but it hasn’t always worked out that way.

I’ve been tempted to apologize for photos and I may have come dangerously close but I think I’ve kept it clean. The temptation comes when I’ve captured a special moment in time but the photo quality isn’t quite as special. Faced with that dilemma, I’ve probably deleted half of them.

And I’m not sorry about that.

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I wasn’t sure if I liked this photo but I kept coming back to it. I liked the partial silhouette and yet it seemed kind of odd. The low angle was good and that made the rocks more interesting. In the end I decided the positioning of the rocks made it seem like I was peering out from behind them – like I was spying on the bison. What do you think? Honesty is welcome as long as you’re not sorry..

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Latest Comments

  1. melodylowes says:

    I can hardly stand it when a blog post starts out ‘I’m sorry I haven’t posted lately, I’ve been so busy…’ Who isn’t? Sheesh. Just post when you post, I say. It’s exactly like you say – permission NOT to continue reading. No one really cares. They don’t have time to read about other people who don’t have time. Now, a post about NOT apologizing? I have time for that! 😉 Love that sneak peek at the bison – it seems just right, somehow…

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      So I’ll put you down as undecided:) It really is surprising how many blogs start off with that unlikely teaser. The irony is that the authors are really thinking of themselves and not the audience. Glad you liked the bison.

      Like

  2. Brian says:

    Lyle, I found your topic interesting, especially from an artistic point of view. What you see in your work, or what any other artists see in their work is sure to be different than the people viewing it. I know you may find flaws, but if you don’t point those out, or try to explain them to someone else, those people don’t see them. I find your pictures, accompanied by the stories, to be inspiring, and I don’t need to, want to, know that you wished it would have turned out differently. So, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
    Love your stuff.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      That’s a great explanation of why it’s so important to stay away from explaining why a photo is less than ideal. People look for, and find, all kinds of different kinds of beauty. I could be all fussed over one aspect that is completely irrelevant to what a viewer enjoys. So glad to hear that you enjoy my photos and musings. I appreciate you adding to the discussion.

      Like

  3. artsifrtsy says:

    I was talking with my brother about this topic, and also about apologizing for being gone or not posting. His take was that life is full of things that you must be accountable for. Writing a blog post shouldn’t be one of them. I’ll admit though, that I occasionally point out that a photo is useful to make a point, but not a quality shot. I’m never sorry for posting them, but there’s something about putting one out there that I see as flawed without a post script – maybe it’s my artist’s insecurities. I always see room for improvement in my work, but don’t feel the need to apologize for not being perfect. BTW – I love the bison, the composition is really wonderful. Wall worthy.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Thanks. That bison shot is quite different for me anyway.

      Your brother makes a good point in a great way regarding posts. The commentary around photos has a lot more shades of grey since explanations can sometimes morph into apologies at least for me. I think artistic insecurity and knowing a particular scene had potential I didn’t capture can quickly lead to apologies. Like you, I often see lots of potential for improvement in the proverbial next time. I think I need the discipline of no apologies because if I ever started, I wouldn’t have a clue when to stop.

      Like

  4. Delft says:

    Fully agree. I simply hate it when blogs or vlogs start with apologies, it’s dumb, and worse: it’s boring!
    And your photos certainly don’t need apologies anyway 🙂

    Like

  5. Mike Powell says:

    “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” or “Love means having to say you’re sorry every five minutes.” Should one support the signature line of the movie “Love Story” or the quotation from John Lennon? Life is a series of complicated choices and it’s hard not to feel insecure about our choices sometimes. Sure, it is easy to get into the bad habit of apologizing all the time, but a confrontational, in-your-face, overly assertive, “I did it my way” approach can be equally, or even more offensive to me. I think that it is useful to try to cultivate an attitude of humility, of recognizing our own limitations, of realizing that almost nothing we do will meet our own (or other people’s) standard of perfection. When it comes to photography, what is perfection? Should I post a photo that is less than perfect? Maybe a professional would answer negatively, but many of us are amateurs, which at its root means that we do it for love. It’s hard to explain to another why we love what we do and I find that apologies are sometimes warranted, so my pledge is to reduce, but not entirely eliminate, the frequency of apologetic statements.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Whatever assumptions a person starts with greatly affects the conclusions. After reading your comments, I think my assumptions are different. I’m not sure there is a perfect wildlife photo but I know for sure that all my photos and almost every photo I see, including those posted by professionals, are not perfect. In fact, I’m sometimes surprised at how imperfect the professionals photos are but that’s OK because they liked them for a reason. Even from the comments on this post, there is quite a difference of opinion on whether the bison photo is any good or where it should be cropped. So I start from the premise that everyone is posting imperfect photos and we are all somewhere along our personal journeys that may have different destinations. If everyone is posting imperfect photos, at whatever point they are in their journey, then it seems to me that apologies don’t appear to add value. I think you start from a different premise and end up with a different conclusion and that’s fine. Perhaps I also draw a different distinction between explaining the challenges of a scene and apologizing for the resulting image. I have enjoyed responding to the comments in this post since people were providing honest feedback and voicing different opinions. I tend to learn more that way.

      I totally agree with you that life is about complicated choices and it’s easy to feel insecure about them. Being overly assertive and cocky is particularly annoying. That leads to the second part of apologizing which I tried to weave into the post but decided to leave for another day. Too often those annoying individuals are the ones who are too proud to admit when they have made mistakes, perhaps even hurt people, and apologize. There are times when saying sorry is absolutely imperative.

      I definitely prefer when people are humble and genuine – traits which you exemplify.

      Like

  6. niasunset says:

    No need sorry or worries. Your photography is your own way and always fascinates me. As this one too. Thank you, love, nia

    Like

  7. Seenorway says:

    The best one can do is usually enough as no one may expect moore!Q

    Like

  8. vanbraman says:

    I played a little bit with the cropping to see what I would like. I would crop off the lowest level of bushes and then bring in the right side to just between the two sets of rocks, leaving the bush behind the bison intact.
    I like the way that the foreground and background are both out of focus and the center of the picture is in focus.
    I know that this puts the bison in the upper right of the picture, but to me it makes it look like it is high up on a ridge.
    You eye is drawn toward the in focus rock on the left of the picture and it makes you think that the bison has come up to an obstruction. I can imagine a large drop off to the bison’s left side and it is trying to figure out how it is going to move forward.
    The picture itself is great as posted. I would post it without any worries 🙂

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I appreciate you taking the time to explain your ideal cropping for the photo. You present another interesting option. It certainly does make it look like the bison is on a ridge and coming to a decision point. Since I was there and know the actual terrain is rolling hills, it was difficult for me to see past that into other possibilities of what viewers might see. I have found this exercise of soliciting feedback on a challenging photo informative and helpful. I may have to do that again sometime.

      Like

  9. judeconning says:

    How amazing you wrote this post and I couldn’t agree more. The other day I was reading a blog and every post started with an apology! I just thought “write the post – this obviously as often as you can get time to post – don’t apologise!”
    Love your posts – I might not always comment but I do enjoy them. Almost apologised but just stopped myself in time.

    Like

  10. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography) says:

    I’m one of those people who apologises and writes excuses because a photo is not sharp/light/good, but I AM trying to stop it. I think my bad habit comes from being brought up by a Mother who constantly criticised everything I did and how I looked (for over 50 years – yes, even in middle age I was criticised). Nothing I did was ever good enough.

    Now, having said that, I love the photo of the mountain goat. Great composition showing it on a steep mountainside.

    I don’t think the bison photo works (for me anyway) – not quite balanced in composition or shape of frame.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      We all have a story and it’s hard to change deeply rooted habits. They can be tenacious. I wish well in that.

      The mountain goat composition was a lot easier than the bison. It’s like there was something there but it not quite right.

      Thanks so much for your comments.

      Like

  11. mflahertyphoto says:

    Never apologized for not posting on a schedule, mostly because I haven’t told anybody I will. I think it is awfully hard not to apologize about a photo. Usually we do it in a roundabout way, but most of us have done it. I think it’s because with some photos we know we could have captured it better. The thing is, nobody else knows that. It’s a case of too much information. I want you to remind me if you ever catch me trying to slip one in. Great shots on both, though I do think in general out of focus foreground has to be just right to work. Not sure if it does in this case, but the silhouette is great.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Make no promises, tell no lies and you don’t have to apologize! I have moved around my posting times and I don’t think anybody notices since I don’t have a schedule either.

      You raise a good point about knowing we could have captured it better. It’s the disappointment that makes too much information a real temptation even though it still may be a good photo.

      I’ll remind you if I see one slipped in to your posts but I’m guessing I’ll be too distracted by the good photos to notice.

      Some others have also mentioned they have would preferred less out of focus foreground. I can usually settle on what I like quite quickly but this has kept me coming back. I will have to more variations with the suggestions I receive.

      I appreciate your thotful comments.

      Like

  12. Stefano says:

    Since you asked for honesty 😉 here it goes: I very much like the contents of your post (which find me in complete agreement) and the image of the mountain sheep. As to the bison image, I find the OOF rock in the foreground distracting and I think it does not add anything to the composition, also because there is too much “void” space to its right – nothing is really happening there. If it were my image, I would crop it to the bottom of the rock in the top left quadrant: I think it would make the composition more focused and dynamic (because it would accentuate the converging lines created by the in-focus rock and the edge of the grassy ground, which form an interesting arrow shape). Of course, this is totally my owh, personal opinion, so take it for what it’s worth 🙂

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I feel like I’m missing out at times when people only comment when they agree with me so thanks for the honest opinion. Despite many crop variations, I hadn’t thot of your suggestion so I’m happy to learn. Perhaps it’s because I was trying emphasize the foreground (which I like) and de-emphasize the sky (which is not interesting). I also liked your comment about the converging lines. If I had noticed more of that at the time, I could have worked that a bit too. Like usual, I am coloured by the experience of actually being in that location which probably led me to leave more out of focus area giving the distance to the bison which existed at the time. It’s probably a good reminder that I may be more comfortable with the out of focus space than others. Thanks for helping me learn.

      Like

  13. Honie Briggs says:

    I too have a no apology necessary policy. I’ve made one public apology on my blog, and that was to my dad in a post about growing up. I agree about speakers/writers who begin by saying they are sorry, it is a big turn off and my cue to tune out. The silhouette is interesting. Almost like he’s contemplating what to do about that sharp rock. I like it.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I’m glad to another member in the no apology club. I’m continually surprised how often the turn-off apologies sneak into the work or really accomplished people.

      Glad you like the contemplation of the sharp rock. I really do wonder what is going through bisons’ minds at times.

      Like

  14. Deb W. Trotter says:

    I love the photo because of the juxtaposition of the warm furry animal standing stock still and the hard granite rock he is facing which can never move away, but somehow seems animate because of the “stare down” happening with the bison! Great photo!

    Like

  15. westerner54 says:

    Such a good point. I understand where the need to apologize is coming from, since it takes some guts to put your stuff out there with confidence, but it’s so important. (I even went back and checked my posts to make sure I wasn’t doing it without being aware of it, and – phew – I haven’t been!) I wonder – do you think women tend to do this more than men? Dare I ask that?

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      It’s funny how apologies can sneak in sometimes even without thinking about them. I am somewhat amused that the post got you checking back.

      It’s hard to safely make generalities about any woman, or all women for that matter. However I will rise to the bait with a qualifier. In my experience, women are more likely to apologize when it may not be necessary. However, they are also more likely than men to apologize when they have done something that requires an apologize. So what do you think?

      Like

  16. DMgirl says:

    I am glad you aren’t sorry. I like the photos exactly how you have them, especially the one of the Bison!

    Like

  17. Deb Scally says:

    Love the unapologetic sentiment. If you are already sorry when you start the post, then stop writing! And if you are sorry about something in the photo, then likewise, it’s obviously not meant to be shared. 🙂

    I actually really like the bison because I love the angle of his stance as it relates to the sharp rock. I looks like a standoff– there is great tension there! Kudos!

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Thanks. Glad you’re not sorry either:)

      The sharp rock adds to the tension in the photo. This was a stranger one than normal for me so it was hard to settle on just how it would end up.

      Like

  18. Phil Lanoue says:

    I’m sorry to say…uh I mean I’m not sorry to say that at a quick first glance I thought that sheep was dead. When I saw this post the way it appeared in my reader with the title next to that photo, I thought you were going to be not apologizing for posting a pic of a dead animal.
    As far as the bison image goes, you put a lot emphasis on the foreground (intentional?) so it kind of made that the more interesting aspect of the scene rather then the animal. Not sure if that’s what you were going for or not.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      A dead animal would make a person wonder whether they should apologize! I didn’t check the cropping of the reader image until the post was published. When I saw that the head was cut off, I thot that might be an amusing way to start the post. Then I looked at it again and thot that just looked too ridiculous and changed it.

      I changed the cropping quite a few times and was quite fussed about the shade of darkness of the silhouette. I really like the foreground but I can see that reducing the foreground makes a nice image.

      Like

  19. iseebeautyallaroundbyrobpaine says:

    I like the bison photo I would just crop a little off the bottom of the image , it tends to weigh down the rest of your great photo!

    Like

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