Daily, I lurk around in the shadows of the web, spying on successful photographers. What they’re shooting, who they’re shooting for, what little nuggets I can pick up. I want to be the best, but to get there, I have to know how high the bar is.
Some out there are very kind in sharing what they know. Their tips, successes, failures. David Hobby, Joe McNally and Chase Jarvis are the three I spy on most, because they seem to be among the ones setting the bar. They are very talented, very successful and very kind to share what they’ve learned in their separate areas of photography.
Chase’s latest post addresses a question he gets a lot: How to “make it” as a photographer. He boils it down to two things: Be really good, and spend a lot of time at it.
So how do you know if you’re good? You’ll know. You’ll be too busy shooting and making money to care. But the second thing, the one about investing 10,000 hours in photography, brought me back to thinking about how golf compares so easily to yet another profession.
Country clubs around the world are filled with 30-handicappers who’ve spent HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of hours playing golf. (If you play twice a week for 20 years, you’ve logged 10,000 hours PLAYING golf…not to mention the times you spent practicing, taking lessons, whatever). Most hardcore club members play and practice way more than that. The bottom line? Getting better at golf and photography DOES NOT happen by simply doing a lot of it. This is what golfers don’t get. This is why most of them suck, and this is why photographers who subscribe to #2 on Chase’s list will suck, too.
I’m not taking a shot at Chase here. I’m really just expanding on the topic. Sure, you’ve got to spend a HUGE amount of time in photography to be really good, but time alone won’t make you better. You will make you better, and the more determined you are to get better, the less you will lie to yourself, the harder you’ll work, and it might only take you 2,000 hours to get there.
Golf, on the other hand is less forgiving. In photography, you only have to convince someone else that you’re good.