While not everybody pressing the shutter release buttons on their cameras thinks about improving their skills, a good part of us do. It doesn’t take much self-evaluation to realize that in many areas we, as photographers, fall short. Often this realization hits us when we compare our pictures to those of others and realize that we need to take our work to next level.
My first bit of advice is simple. Perhaps so simple that it goes overlooked. If you want to improve your photography you need to take pictures. That is it. We can all go to seminars and read magazines but if we aren’t shooting, what is the point?
When I say that you need to shoot pictures, I mean you need to shoot a lot of pictures and you need to do it often. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a great book entitled Outliers in which he described the steps to master something. Usually people think that greatness comes from some strong innate talent. While “natural ability” does play a role, that role is very small in comparison to the amount of time a person spends practicing and doing. Even people that we think of as geniuses, Gladwell points out, spent an extraordinary amount of time working. Greatness did not just happen to them, like some lucky pull of the slot machine. Their accomplishments seem less miraculous once one factors in the amount of time they spent working at it. While we spend our childhood playing video games and watching movies, Mozart spent composing music. So is it any wonder that, as a young adult, Mozart produced masterpieces? Think of all those hours you spent on tv, computer games and hanging out. What if, instead you focused all that time on a craft what you could have accomplished?
Gladwell believes that mastery comes after 10,000 hours of doing something. That comes to 5 years of putting in 40 hour days. While we may not want to, or even have the ability to, devote that much time in this period of our lives, the principle still holds. The more time you spend the better you will get.
So, what are you waiting on? Grab your camera and start shooting!