The secret to success in photography

Of course there’s a secret! Otherwise everyone would succeed, right?

OK, so you might sense a hint of irony in my words. That’s because I can only shake my head at the fever-pitched search for ‘the secret’ that I witness online and in the real world.

Am I qualified to have an opinion? Well, I do this full-time and clients actually pay me for photography. My images get published. I’m not famous or rich, but I do this for a living. So yes, to that extent I guess I can have an opinion about my industry and the people in it, or the people who want to be in it.

So here goes… the SECRET to being a great photographer is [drumroll]: take great photos.

I’m not being ironic or sarcastic. Seriously, great photographers take great photos. You cannot become a great photographer if you’re not taking photos. Let’s be clear: talking about photos, blogging about photos, and looking at photos are not the same as taking photos. It’s so blindingly obvious (to me, at least) but it seems that many many people are so busy looking for ‘the secret’ that they’re not busy taking photos. If you’re not taking photos, you’re not a photographer… you’re a camera owner.

Mastering photography – like all skills – is an evolutionary process: You have to take a lot of average photos before you start taking good photos. And then you take a lot of good photos before you consistently produce excellent photos. If you take enough photos, and give yourself enough opportunities to grow and never shirk away from the hard work of improving yourself, then you’ll take great photos. Take enough great photos and you’ll be a great photographer.

Every hour you spend looking for ‘the secret’ is an hour you could have been taking photos.

I get the sense that many people are so busy chasing that elusive tutorial/ book/ DVD/workshop that will somehow make them successful that they have no time left to take photos, never mind enjoy the wonder of creating an image.

Now, go take some damn pictures!