The Key To Substantial Improvement

Apr 14, 2022 | General Photography | 0 comments

There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “I am not afraid of the fighter who knows 10,000 moves and has practiced them once. But I am deathly afraid of the fighter who knows one move and has practiced it 10,000 times”. This analogy applies to so many things in life, but especially photography and any art form based on practiced technique. 

Yes, we all know that practicing leads to improvement, but there’s one crucial detail that gets left out and it’s the real key to significant growth and a deeper understanding of your craft. That key is long durations of time spent with a singular focus. It seems like such a trivial detail, but it’s more powerful than most realize. And the results are quite dramatic. 

So how do we apply this to photography? The action itself is not difficult. The hard part is getting through the hours of seemingly pointless repetition. Fighting off the urge to move on to something else because you’re getting bored. If you just stick through it long enough the rewards are immense. Not to mention the sense of accomplishment. Something magical happens when you cross that threshold. You begin to notice things you didn’t before. The thing you were struggling with suddenly becomes clearer. It’s like a light bulb turning on in your brain and there’s nothing quite like it. It’s difficult to describe just how amazing it is to anyone who hasn’t experienced it. You’ll just have to try it for yourself to see.

If you’ve seen any of my BTS videos you may notice that I don’t have a whole lot of fancy lights and gear. One of the things that has helped me improve over the years is the continued use of minimal tools. I still have a-ha moments when using something as basic as a shoot through umbrella. Being broke was actually a blessing in disguise when I first started out. For a long time I had no choice but to figure out how much I could accomplish with a very limited tool set. That has led me to a more intimate understanding of how those tools work that I never would have found otherwise. I sometimes wonder how much I would suck if I had access to all the most expensive gear early on.

Your Turn!

Your assignment this week is to choose one lens (a prime if you have one), one light, one modifier, and something inanimate to practice on. One of my favorite things to use is an egg for its round shape and texture. If you only have a zoom lens, pick a focal length and use a piece of electrical tape to keep it from moving. The key to this exercise is long periods of uninterrupted time focused on one thing. That is absolutely crucial. 3 hours is recommended. You will gain infinitely more from one 3 hour session than you will from three 1 hour sessions. Have fun with the process. Go into it with patience and a very clear goal of what you want to focus on. 

The comments are open for members. I’d love to hear how it went for you!




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