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First 10000 photos are your worst

The renowned photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson famously said ‘Your first 10,000 photos are your worst’. I’ve always taken this quote as simply meaning practice makes perfect, but after recently opening a box with my first ten year’s worth of photo prints in it, I discovered his statement to be eerily accurate.

For the last 20-30 years I’d been lugging this box from house to house, always looking forward to the day I’d finally put aside some time to go over my precious photos I’d held with such reverence. So imagine my disappointment when I discovered the vast majority – over 5000 prints – were absolutely terrible! I could almost hear Cartier-Bresson saying I told you so.

But beyond the surprise of just how few photos I wanted to keep, I noticed some interesting patterns. Lessons slowly learned from film to film, techniques gradually refined over a decade, the shocking amount of materials consumed, and perhaps most obviously the realisation the most important pictures of all were those of people. In the video below I’ll talk about all of this, my early photographic journey, and of course that famous quote and what it means today in the World of digital.

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