Jimmy's blog

makin’ it

August 26th, 2009

I’ve been wondering lately what it takes to become a great photographer. I’m not talking about what it takes to do good photography. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with ordinary good photography and there are plenty of good stock, wedding, nightlife photographers out there, but I’m talking about great photography. Work that is significant. Work that changes photography. I’m talking Ansel Adams great. I’m talking James Nachtwey great.

I stumbled upon an earlier post of Chase Jarvis where he describes how to make it in the field of photography. It can be summed up pretty well in these two rules:

1. Be undeniably good.

Rather than asking how do I get clients? How do I meet the right people? How do I do this? Become so good other people can’t ignore you.  When you’re good people will come to you. Much easier than going out to parties and finding people and convincing them to work with you.

2. Dedicate at least 10,000 hours to whatever it is you’re looking to master.

This is pretty self explanatory. On the surface success always appears to happen overnight, but in reality it is always a slow process that gets started years before. We don’t get to see that part so usually people think success is a matter of luck or they look for that shortcut that’s gonna make them achieve overnight. To become so good that people can’t ignore you, you have to focus and dedicate years persevering and honing your skill.

In a separate post but I think it’s related, Chase comments on the video below. He talks about how it’s tough to be the first in any field but especially in the creative world.

It’s tough to be the first to drip paint on canvas and call it art,to be the first to take skateboarding as a lifestyle, invent the “ollie”, to be the first impressionist/expressionist/cubist, to be the first state to legalize gay marriage, whatever. It’s hard work going against the status quo. People will ridicule, point and laugh at you and often that’s as far as you get, but sometimes, sometimes, it pays off and it’s something really beautiful.

That really speaks to me as well and the dude in the video really nails it in terms of being the first, not caring what other people think and persevering long enough through some (if any) pointing and laughing. It only takes one person:

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