01-11-12 #18,791

2012 01-11-12 #18,791

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. . . .

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3 thoughts

  1. I will never be completely pleased with my photography efforts or any of my other endeavors, not because I don’t try, but because I don’t try LONG enough. I get impatient with myself when I can’t do it good enough fast enough. I am going to concentrate on being more patient with myself.

  2. Scott, I have held this photo and your comments in my email since the day you published this. I did so because I thought this was one of the most insightful and reflective posts I have seen in a long time. Those of us who are introspective see your words as encouragement to continually strive to get better. Some might see these words as reasons to not continue to push themselves. Like Jolene above, I also get impatient with my efforts ( regardless of what they may be). But then every once in a while I take an image I am really happy with (your 1 : 1,000 ratio is probably about my ratio also). And that keeps me motivated to continue to improve and grow. Hopefully, my reach will continue to exceed my grasp.

    Keep these great photos and commentary coming, I always look forward to your next image.

    • Thanks, Jim. A photo should tell some kind of story or communicate some kind of mood or feeling without the photographer butting in with his/her interpretation. Having said that, I can help myself from sharing my thinking. Frankly, it wasn’t until I started this blog that I realized how much I was thinking and “processing” when I was doing photograhy.

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