motivation

Be a closer

I'm currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear, a book I'm enjoying very much. There's a passage that caught my attention:

On the first day of class, Jerry Uelsmann, a professor at the University of Florida, divided his film photography students into two groups.

Everyone on the left side of the classroom, he explained, would be in the “quantity” group. They would be graded solely on the amount of work they produced. On the final day of class, he would tally the number of photos submitted by each student. One hundred photos would rate an A, ninety photos a B, eighty photos a C, and so on.

Meanwhile, everyone on the right side of the room would be in the “quality” group. They would be graded only on the excellence of their work. They would only need to produce one photo during the semester, but to get an A, it had to be a nearly perfect image.

At the end of the term, he was surprised to find that all the best photos were produced by the quantity group. During the semester, these students were busy taking photos, experimenting with composition and lighting, testing out various methods in the darkroom, and learning from their mistakes. In the process of creating hundreds of photos, they honed their skills. Meanwhile, the quality group sat around speculating about perfection. In the end, they had little to show for their efforts other than unverified theories and one mediocre photo.

(source: jamesclear.com)

This is yet another good example of why we shouldn't aim for perfection, why we should experiment and try different things and shoot a scene as much as we need.

We want to avoid overthinking our photography and become paralyzed.

Planning, strategizing and studying are all good and useful but eventually we will need to take action.

We need to finish what we start.

We need to be closers.

Loosen up

Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world. In a sport where every millisecond counts, you'd think he had the best running technique. He didn't.

The real difference comes to light when you compare him to his rivals. While everyone is tense before the race, he's smiling and already having fun. While everyone runs like perfect machines, his form is natural, light, and yet powerful.

Is he having fun because he's so good? Or is he so good because he's having fun?

I believe it's the latter.

Perhaps we could apply this to our photography. Perhaps we should loosen up, have more fun, improvise more, think less, forget about proper technique, dismiss proper composition.

Perseverance

What makes a photographer great is not their camera gear or their skills.

Photography is about the long game, it's about perseverance.

When everyone else sees nothing, they find something. In times when others shy away, they perform their best.

Determination is invincible.

Motivation comes from action

We believe that we need motivation to do something. Motivation leads to results. Thus we seek to be motivated, yet fail most of the time.

What if it was the other way around? What if our actions defined our motivation?

Then, all it'd take for us to be motivated is to do something.

The world needs you

I've been told many times -especially when working with film- about the right way to do things.

"Look at the masters", they say. "Do what they did", they repeat.

"It was all academic. You were taught to paint like somebody else, made me not want to paint at all. You want to paint your own way!"

Georgia O'Keeffe said it better than anyone else. Using just charcoal, she created beautiful -but radical for her time- abstract drawings. That wasn't what she was supposed to be doing. And yet, she became one of the greatest American artists of the 20th century.

Look at the masters, and then "kill" them and carve your own path. The world doesn't need another Ansel Adams or another Henri Cartier-Bresson.

The world needs you.

Forever a beginner

Experience doesn't matter when it comes to photography. If it did, all the greats would've created their best images at the end of their careers. That's rarely the case.

Actually, I'd argue that experience makes us and our art predictable. The more we do something, the less likely we are to try something new.

I believe we should strive to be beginners forever.

Struggling to finish

It took me a long time to write my last post. I started it over several times and couldn't find the right title. It never felt quite finished: I always wanted to change, add, or remove something.

I hadn't posted much on the blog for weeks (even though I have plenty of unfinished drafts) so as soon as I got a draft with an introduction, a few points, and a conclusion, I was ready to publish it.

It wasn't perfect and it didn't need to be. I just wanted to break the bad habit of not finishing things.

I've been struggling with closing projects lately.

I still have many open projects that need my attention, but we need to start somewhere, we need to take that first step, and I feel like publishing my previous post was a small but big victory to me.