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11 - Hierarchy of Dissatisfaction

Jay Maisel, a well-known commercial photographer, gave a class at the Maine Photographic Workshops. He discussed how photography has three levels of dissatisfaction:

On the first level, you notice the flaws in your pictures [after you've taken them].

On the second level, you see them when you're shooting.

On the third level, you don't even put the camera up to your eye.1 2

A student asked me, "You mean, sometimes, you don't take the picture?"


For example, if the light isn't right and you can't improve it, don't bother with the photograph.

1 Brown, S. L. (1986, February). Jay Maisel Color Workshop. Popular Photography Magazine, 32-90.

2 The construction of the above quote appears to be based on work by Oscar Wilde. Cecil Adams, in his column The Straight Dope quotes Wilde talking about drinking absinthe: "After the first glass you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see things as they are not. Finally you see things as they really are, and this is the most horrible thing in the world." (New York Press, 2001, October 24-30)