Friday, January 29, 2010

Lenswork and Bird by Bird

For our reading discussion this week, we listened to some audio of Lenswork publishing editor Brooks Jensen, as well as diving into Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird".

"Success happens when opportunity meets preparation"

The opening quote of Jensen's podcast is a quote from Vince Lombardi, and re-quoted by Ansel Adams. However, Jensen goes on to say that, while it has merit, it has it's counterpart as well. That "Talent" is what differentiates one artist from another. Hard work definitely plays into it, but it's the genius of "Talent" that counts. But is it?

Jensen questions the assumption and I happen to agree with him. This idea that talent is the only way to get somewhere seems rather farfetched. I like the "10,000 hour" rule that is brought up, where, if any one person were to devote 10,000 hours to one particular skill or craft, they could achieve a relatively high level of proficiency. I feel that that assertion is correct. Given the opportunity to devote 10,000 hours to any one skill, I personally think I could become rather good at whatever it was. That's is roughly 416 days worth of practice. I don't care how bad you are at something, with that amount of time you could train yourself, as well as learn your potential, to a very large extent. I think it's evident in lots of photographic work, too. We are told time after time that it is going to take a few years before we truly begin to see our own "style". Yes, we may be unique already, but you still have to crank out those 10,000 hours before your "talent" can be properly honed in.

"Bird by Bird" looks to be an inspiring book. It is a guide for writers, but the words "write" and "writing" can be easily interchanged with "Photograph" and "Photographing". We've only read into it a little bit, but Anne Lamott is very good at laying out a way to adjust your psyche to deal with the stresses of "writing". We all take photos because we feel the NEED to. I liken it to the show Dexter - while it may be "wrong" to kill, Dexter HAS to. For us, it may be a poor career choice to some, but we don't care, we HAVE to photograph. Success rates are small and the payout is smaller, but somewhere in our minds it doesn't matter. We have a drive not for money or success, but a personal fulfillment to satisfy. Why? Who knows. While Lamott had her influences, we all had ours. In fact, you can read how everybody in my class got started on our class blog. It's interesting to see the differences and similarities in how our drive was born.

I also found this photo the other morning while wasting time on the internet. The man in the photo is photography, and we are the monkeys. Sometimes we love it, feed off it, and long for it. Other times, we want to beat it with a large stick.

1 comment:

photophanatic1887 said...


I agree with the monkey photograph.