You spent too much on gear
You don’t want it bad enough
You keep comparing yourself to others
You are afraid to fail
You stick to what you know
You take no chances
You learn from tutorials
You have no talent
You do whatever the client asks
Set goals that are too high
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I once read somewhere that it takes 10,000 hours of practicing something to become good at it. Is that a minimum? Probably not. Is there any guarantee that after doing the same thing for the required amount of time you will be good at it, beyond any doubt? I certainly don’t think so. We’re talking about photography this time. It is certainly one of those activities or fields of work , even one those art branches that requires a lot more practice than study. It actually doesn’t involve a lot of study compared to other things, like painting or drawing. But even if you do it for years and years, it doesn’t mean you will be good at it. That again, you could be doing it for a lot less than 10,000 hours and quickly become very successful and appreciated.
I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade here, but when you take up photography, or anything else for that matter, there is a slight chance you’ll never actually be good at it. In this case, it could be because of one or more of these eleven reasons.
It’s very important, especially in the early days, to get the proper feedback. Be it good or bad, it should come from someone who knows a little more about photography than you do and who’s been doing it for a longer period of time. The feedback you get from your close ones, family and friends, is bound to be positive most of the times. It feels great and it can be a good motivational boost, but bear in mind that it’s not the best way to measure the quality of your work. Should you rely on this kind of feedback, don’t expect tremendous, fast growing progress.
(Success Tip:Take better photographs with this simple deck of cards)
Having the cash and spending it on good gear isn’t the direct problem. It becomes a problem when you invest a lot of money on high end equipment because you rely on it more than you do on yourself. Expensive gear is nothing without creativity, skill and talent. No matter how much money you spend on it, it is no substitute for any of them. That’s not to say that you should do client work with amateur equipment. You need to have the right tools for the job, but you also need to acknowledge that that is all they are, tools.
If you want to be good at photography and to have a certain level of success, there are sacrifices to be made. This is more than just a job or a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. I see so many people pretending to want it but who aren’t really willing to do what it takes. There is no recipe or list of things you need to do to reach that level of success, but I guarantee that sacrifices are involved every time. You have to be willing to make them; otherwise you’re just lying to yourself.
Comparing yourself and your work to the work of others is a two-sided sword. For some people it can be a good source of motivation and drive, for others, dare I say the most, it is a source of frustration and disbelief. However many photographers are out there, each has the ability to come up with their own kind of stuff and give way to their personal vision. But if you are dwelling on other people’s photos while thinking you are never going to be that good, you might be right, because instead of getting to work and making stuff happen, you are contemplating how awesome other people are.
Yes, I know this sounds like a girly cliché from Pinterest, but as much as I hate to admit it, it does have a contribution to why some people never make it. You might fail at cooking your breakfast eggs right, let alone have a successful run in photography. So, you might as well give it a shot.
Play it safe. Don’t try new techniques. Use the same tools without ever considering others. Never try any other kind of work. Leave all that’s new or different to the others. You’re on your way to nowhere.
Compromise often comes hand in hand with risk. What each of us is willing to risk is a question of personal choice. For some it might be financial security, for others it can be time spent with the family. If I already started including clichés, I might as well add another. No guts, no glory.
Online tutorials, of which there is no shortage, are decent sources of information. But if that’s all you’re basing your education on, you have a problem. I’m not saying go to art school or you’ll be a loser, but do read a few books, watch a few classic movies and go to as many art shows and photography exhibitions as possible.
This is cruel, bitter, and ugly and there is nothing you can do about it. No amount of money and time spent and no matter how much ambition you have, if you lack talent, it’s game over. You’re either born with it or not, it’s not something you pick up along the way. The best way to manage a lack of talent is to discover it as early as possible. That way you will be saving yourself a lot of time and energy. By the way, sorry about that.
There is a fine line between satisfying a client and executing everything like you are a machine. Your job is a creative one and you should act like it. Even if we’re talking about a given concept, the final results should still look like you’re the only one who could have taken those photos. By doing exactly as a client says, your role is being reduced from photographer to button pusher.
It’s probably a good idea to acknowledge the difference between high, achievable goals and unrealistic dreams from fairytales with unicorns. If you’re closer to the second option, you’re setting yourself up for massive disappointment. Push yourself forward and give it your best every day, but have a clear view of what is achievable and what’s not.
Article by Sergiu Aursulesei