This photo is the last photo I took in 2012. I was entralled by the fact that the bag of chips got puffy as our airplane reached altitude. It was taken with my iPhone and given what I was trying to capture, it is a failure. It was also the 18,791st photo I took last year.
I am posting a throw-away photo today so I can talk about two things that are running through my head:
First, this photo is obvious proof that every shutter click doesn’t generally produce a gem. My rough calculation is that I might get something that is close to as good as it gets for me about once every 1000 times I take a photo. That’s a ratio that isn’t very good and which is no doubt one of the evils of the digital era of photography. I have been reading about Edward Weston and he was much more deliberate and calculating in his photography. I need to be more like him.
Second, I accept Malcolm Gladwell’s thesis in his book Outliers that what we call “genius” is often a combination of the right genes and the right environment. But you also need to add in 10,000 hours of concerted and guided practice. By my calculations, not including all of the time I spent teaching photography last year, I put about 800 hours into my craft in 2012 (including the production of this blog). Eight hundred hours equals twenty 40 hours work weeks.
The reality is that by Gladwell’s suggestion, I have several years to go before I have a chance of being a genius. Or at least really, really, really good. Do I have the will? Will I find the right teachers? And will I ever feel like I’ve reached some kind of peak or pinnacle?
The answers to the first two questions are “Yes” and “I hope so.” The answer to the last is “Probably not.” I quoted the poet Robert Browning yesterday in my first year photography class: “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp. Or what’s a Heaven for?”
But at least we strive. . . .