There is no thing like talent in photography. It simply is not. There is only your effort, practicing and persistence, like it is not in most of any other art. You don't believe me?
My former mentor - Robin Griggs Wood- once did write a great blog post about “The "Talent" Myth”:
For years, I have been mentoring others in art and I like to copy down some of the more common questions and share it with everyone. Here is one of those:
Q: "I had to really examine myself to see if I really had talent … am I an artist looking for a canvas or just a dreamer reaching for an unreachable dream?"
Talent is a grossly misunderstood thing. Much of what is taken as talent is really just a conglomeration of education and persistence -- and lots and lots of hard work!
A real artist is made. He makes himself. All it takes is to be damn unwilling to be otherwise.
Persistence makes excellence. My persistence is my only talent.
Interesting is that even if we are educated to believe in work and persistence most of us are biased to believe in talent. In 2011 Chia-Jung Tsay and Mahzarin R. Banaji two psychologists from Harvard University made an experiment which seems to prove this:
They first questioned roundabout 100 professional musicians if inborn talent or effortful training is more important to becoming a great musician. They result of the question round was that both is equal important, but that hard work and training would trump natural ability. That so-called “strivers” would achieve more than “naturals.”
The second step was to present the musicians two profiles of professional pianists - one a natural talent, the other a striver with identical success. The musicians then heard a 20 second clip of those pianist and had to answer some questions after it. - about the pianist's’ talent, likelihood of success, response to adversity, and their willingness to hire the musician.
Actually - unbeknownst to the musicians - both clips were identical - played only by one pianist, not by two. Even the profiles were based on the career of the pianist playing the clips - nearly using the same words, but one worded to make the pianist sound like a natural, while the other written to make the pianist sound like a striver.
Stunning was that while the musicians said in the question round that they valued strivers of naturals (persistence over talent) when rating each pianist, they rated the natural as being more talented, more likely to achieve professional success in the future, and want to hire them more often. Whereas the striver was seen as being more resilient.
Based on same performances it seems that talent was more favourable over hard work.
The “fixed mindset” - the believe that talent is inborn - keeps us restricted from taking new opportunities and chances, as we think we could fail.
While a “growth mindset” - the believe that persistence and effort allows us to grow beyond where we are - will make us more resilient and successful in the long run.
This isn’t a theory of mine - but it is based on the researches of the psychologist Carol Dweck and colleagues of Stanford University. In this article: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept10/vol68/num01/Even-Geniuses-Work-Hard.aspx she explained the two mindsets they found and how they are related to our performance and our long term success.
Now most of the great photographers I do know to have a growth mindset. They love challenges, and accept mistakes as friends and a chance to learn and follow the sense of progress while learning, and do not stop shooting and learning even if they feel stuck for a while or no progress.
Imogen Cunningham famous quote express this mindset perfectly:
“Which of my photographs is my favourite? The one I going to take tomorrow!”
Reflections of Autumn
About the Series My Germany:
Germany is a diverse country, with many different landscapes, some beauty and bountiful, some barren and harsh -
it has high mountains like the alps, mountainous areas like black wood forest and rolling hills close to my home, and plains with a far horizons in the north - and many, many sights in between.
I want showing you a bit of the variety of my country -
how I do see it in color or black and white.
Hope you enjoy
More you can find at my website:
Current Work and Musings about photography
I'm a man, a husband, a father, and a product manager most of the day.