Photography is a great past time. It takes you places, causes you to deeply observe what is happening, even during a pandemic.
In photography, there are hundreds of thousands of social media channels and publications dedicated to keeping up with the latest ‘newness’ in photographic technology.
My view on cameras, food, martial arts and pretty much everything is that the pursuit of mastery makes for a worthwhile lifestyle that connects choice and achievement.
So, when I recently bought a new camera, it seemed useful to join discussion forums to learn more to become better at photography.
What followed was astonishing.
Dysfunction in Numbers
Searching for others like me in photography I joined online groups, hoping to learn with and from people as we embraced a new camera brand and equipment.
Wow was I naïve.
Here and there professional photographers shared really usable insights. I am grateful to them for their generosity. That was too rare.
The real “aha” was realizing few people seemed really interested in actual skill development.
They had a Visa card, a sense of entitlement and were searching for the fastest, easiest way to create pro-level photos without actual learning or effort. In essence, searches for how to find a way NOT to become more skilful.
One day a particularly gifted photographer wrote: “I have older, less sophisticated equipment than you do and have never had the problems you are describing. Seems to me the issue is not the equipment”.
Bingo! Face Palm Smack – AKA What My Dad Taught Me
My father was going through aircraft machinist training in southern England following WW2, and had to face the most challenging test: to create a near-perfect sphere from a solid cube of aluminum using 4 basic tools:
· 1 hacksaw
· 1 file
· 1 sheet Emory cloth (metal sandpaper)
· 1 micrometer.
Dad passed the test, creating a sphere +/- 5 thousands of an inch through skill, training and basic equipment.
When I asked him how hard it was to do, he scrunched up his face and replied “hard has nothing to do with it! I wanted to pass and did what was required.”.
Per the photographers’ response, we don’t need the latest and best equipment. Most masters don’t actually have it. What they have is deep connection with the results they want, how to achieve them and a relentlessness to get it done, no matter the tools.
Reality is We Are All Masters in Training
Everyone I meet, without exception, is really good at something or many somethings.
As the pandemic winds down if you feel demotivated, lethargic or floating through it all, do yourself a favour - create a goal that matters.
Maybe it is to make your own sushi or to learn how to meditate. Like me, maybe to take better pictures.
From your goal embrace the effort. Find a course or watch videos and then put what you learn into practice.
Keep notes on your effort and results. As you work at it, reflect and change what and how you practice, maybe go learn some more and repeat the process. Then as you realize success, share it, celebrate, remember how and practice.
Invite friends to dinner or share your photos online.
Since January I have applied this process and taken over 10,000 photos. Many are not so great. Some are actually pretty nice. Lately, more of them are better every day. Where I might achieve one really good shot a week in January, now there are several every day.
For example, in March the photo below is a first effort at star trail photography.
From yesterday, here is a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk.
After a few months of steady effort, learning, failing, missing epic possible shots, reading, viewing and keeping notes the result is that every day there is a higher potential of producing something good.
This is core to my coaching practice.
People transform their lives by converting choice into achievement, through willpower and effort.
My choice is to keep creating better photographs, amongst other things, achievements that bring fulfilment to myself and others.
This is the path to Unleash our Potential.