29 May 2012

Advice for budding photographers

‘Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.’ –Henri Cartier-Bresson 
Via The New Shelton 'wet/dry.


  1. "What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me ... is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it's just not that good. It's trying to be good, it has potential, but it's not.

    But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn't have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it's normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

    It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I've ever met. It's gonna take awhile. It's normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through."

    -- Ira Glass

  2. And in the age of digital cameras it is probably going to be more like "Your first 100,000 photographs are your worst."

  3. Hmm, I think the number was probably much higher for me!

  4. I have a fairly lowly 2nd-hand camera. I take many photos for the school and parents, children and staff often say I must have a really expensive camera. No - I just bother to look through the viewfinder. While "Point and shoot" can turn up trumps sometimes, a moment's thought before pressing the button and a willingness to look critically at the results pays off handsomely.

    Granted, digital photography has made it a lot more likely that you'll come up with something nice, but that's just statistics - you can slant the pitch considerably with quite a small amount of effort and some simple "rules".

  5. There's nothing that says the second 10,000 or second 100,000 are any better.

    I'm well passed both figures and continue to be my worst critic.

  6. I believe this applies to many forms of art and trade. It is how I feel about my musical endeavors, like Ben and the lightbulb, it is worth every failure to succeed indeed.


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