The 3 Ingredients to Photography Success
Part 1: Let's get cooking - The Rising Agent
So you want to be an amazing photographer right? It's important to realize that each and every one of us have different dreams, different goals, different visions for the future of our photography. When we realize that, we also realize that each of us have different photography styles, and we'll all go on a slightly different journey to our photography success.
But for all of these differences, there are 3 things that remain true, no matter what your pathway to success is. The best photographers in the world, the ones who have reached their dreams (whatever they are!), have reached them with the assistance of these three, essential ingredients.
If you were to bake a sponge cake, these three ingredients would be the, rising agent (flat sponge cakes really aren't that delicious), the recipe (you can't just throw in a bunch of different things and expect it to work - olives DON'T belong in sponge cake) and the egg (you've gotta bind it together somehow).
So let's dive in.
PART 1: PRACTICE (the rising agent)
I think we can all agree that practice really does make perfect (or at least close to). Without picking up our cameras and actually taking photos, we can never hope to achieve excellence. So I really admire the people who recognize that practice is one of the key, essential ingredients to photography success.
BUT. It's not that simple. If it was just about practice, we would all be incredible photographers (probably). I'm sure you've spent a few hours behind the lens, so why is it that it's not working out for you, but it is working out for other people?
Well team, let's cut to the chase here.
There is a HUGE, MONUMENTAL, UNBELIEVABLE difference between GOOD practice, and BAD practice.
Let's break it down:
BAD PRACTICE (It's always easier to start with the bad)
What is "bad" practice and why is it so bad? Bad practice is what happens when we blindly do the same thing over and over again, without improving our skills in the process. BAD practice is when we take the same photos, over and over again, expecting a different result. But as the incredibly brilliant Albert Einstein once said:
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results"
Now, none of you reading this are insane (although there are days when I wonder about my own sanity for sure), but embarking on a journey filled with bad practice is a remarkably easy mistake to make.
Think of it like this. Imagine you bake a chocolate cake. But it comes out all dry and crumbly. OOPS, you think to yourself, that was a disaster. I'd better practice more, so that I can eventually bake that spongy, moist, sweet and delicious cake I'm dreaming of. So you go ahead and bake 100 more chocolate cakes. BUT, you never checked the recipe, you never talked to your friend, who is a baking expert, you never watched a youtube video, you just went ahead and did the SAME THING AGAIN.
The outcome? 100 more dry, crumbly chocolate cakes. You never get any better, because in your practice you never learn anything new.
The same is true for your photography. Unless you figure out WHY your photos didn't work out, you will never be able to create the images of your dreams. Instead, you will end up practicing (and hence reinforcing), BAD photos and bad habits.
The worst part though team? When you practice taking mediocre photos you are reinforcing bad habits, making them that much harder to break down the line.
Now, all is not lost, because bad practice is a choice - and so is GOOD practice...
GOOD PRACTICE (This is way more fun)
AWESOME. We have a pretty good understanding of what NOT to do, now it's time to figure out what TO DO.
And it goes like this...
Let's go back to our chocolate cake analogy here for a moment. You just baked a dry, crumbly chocolate cake, and your thought is the same: "OOPS, I had better practice this". BUT this time, instead of running headlong into it, not learning a thing, and baking 100 more dry crumbly cakes, you stop for a moment. Instead of just practicing, you realize that you need some help. So you head online, you find a how-to video about baking a cake, you sign up for a baking class, you talk to your friend who is a baker about what went wrong. You spend a little time "sharpening the saw" - LEARNING how to make the cake so that you can THEN practice making it the RIGHT WAY. The next time you turn on your mixer, you're ready to make that delicious, sweet, spongy, moist chocolate cake. Because now you know how.
So let's loop back to our photography practice now. Sure, practice is key (absolutely, without a doubt), BUT, practice HAS to be accompanied by LEARNING. You cannot take exceptional photos unless you LEARN while you PRACTICE.
And here's the kicker: if you LEARN as you practice, you will end up practicing GOOD skills, and that practice will help you take magical photos automatically.
HOW DOES THE CAKE LOOK NOW?
Now that you guys understand that the first ingredient, the agent that will help you RISE above where you are right now (get it, the rising agent?! 🤣), you will be able to embark on the journey to photography excellence with confidence that your skills are improving. You now understand that GOOD practice happens when you ADD TO YOUR SKILLS as you go. So make sure you're learning on the way...
Here's a sneak preview - we talk more about learning tomorrow in Part 2: The Recipe...
ARE YOU READY TO PRACTICE?
By joining our next Photography In Focus cohort, starting on July 6th, you're signing up for 12+ weeks of REALLY HONKING GOOD practice. Each week we will be adding your skills and giving you targeted, useful exercises so that you can USE these new skills and improve your photography with intention.
After our 12 weeks together you will be VERY ready to join the list of our Success Stories (read more of those here).
So it's time to SIGN UP for Photography In Focus. You won't regret it.
Don't forget to check out ingredient #2 tomorrow!