Monday, September 24, 2012

But I don't want to be Ansel Adams

Maybe it's just my perception, but I see a lot of people starting out in photography (some of them have been starting out for years) who don't want to do the work to become better. They don't want to be Ansel Adams, they just want to be pretty good. They want to become better photographers. Surely they don't have to do the work, right? Surely one can just practice a bit, talk to some people online and read a couple web sites. I don't want to be Ansel Adams, after all!

The trouble with this attitude is that it's wrong. You don't see people saying that they don't want to be Robert Oppenheimer, they just want to be pretty good quantum physicists, so surely they can just make some stuff up about particles. You don't just creatively invent your way into being a pretty good amateur plumber, you at least read a book. People actually do think they can write their way into being a novelist, but they're completely wrong almost 100% of the time -- you read your way into being a novelist.

The only difference between being a decent amateur photographer and being a really good photographer is that you don't do the work as hard or as thoroughly. You still need to do the work. Read some stuff about composition, look at a bunch of photographs. Look at a lot of photographs, and think about them. Read more things about photography and photographers and art. You have to do the work. You just don't have to do it full time.

If you're having fun just going out and shooting, like everyone online tells you to, great. You're not really going to get any better, but you'll have a good time, I bet.

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