Getting great takes time and practice

This from today’s blog posting at Photo Business News & Forum by John Harrington:

From Martin Luther King Jr:

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.

When I was a young photographer working for one of the community newspapers that employed me way back in the 70s, a competitor hired a new photographer who it turned out could shoot me out of the sky. This kid was so good I felt like a failure in comparison. And compare myself I did. I didn’t seek to get better. I didn’t take more training. I didn’t shoot more. I quit and went into public relations work. My goodness did it pay more….lots more. But somewhere in my heart of hearts I knew I had failed one of life’s little tests by quitting.

So today, almost 40 years later I have set out on a grand adventure to become the best photographer that I can be. And the first rule is not to compare myself with anyone. There will always be better shooters out there. I can compete with most of them (humility was never one of my failures). But there are some people out there who can shoot my pants off and we haven’t even started to talk about the photographic artists yet. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have a look at what my colleagues are doing.

I know I’m rambling but I’m under the illusion I’m getting somewhere with this posting.

On Sunday, Marion and I went to Art In the Park here in Oakville, Ontario. I didn’t even take a camera! I wanted to go and really see what other photographers were doing. Of the 10 or so photographers in the show, seven or eight were pretty awful (poorly exposed, poorly composed, some out of focus, none with an emotional content whatsoever, snapshots at best). One of the group was better than average (One of her better shots was taken with a point & shoot camera!) and two guys (including Oakville photographer Ian Cuthbert) were terrific.

Thanks to my visit to Art In the Park I can see what I need to do to get better (shoot more) and I’m loving this new awakening within me. If you’re struggling with your images: take heart and read Harrington’s blog posting. Photography (good photography) takes time and work and an open heart.

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