Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Adventures in Photography: Stars in the Heavens Above

As in any art or craft, excellence in photography demands diligence, patience, forethought, and determination. Please notice that I did not include the word talent. People often assume that talent is the magical answer to becoming great at everything. It can become a crutch. As a musician and a photographer I hear this all the time, “You must be so talented.” Sure, I have talent, but so do you.

Nearly everyone has the ability to pick up a camera and click the shutter button. Likewise, the vast majority of people can sing. However, many people will try to convince you that they are tone deaf. While some people actually are tone deaf, most people simply have not developed the skills of hearing and singing. It has little to do with talent. Like every other skill, singing and perhaps even more so, photography can be learned.

Some will argue that talent is still the most important part of the equation. For example, not everyone can learn to dunk a basketball. While that is true, most people can shoot a basketball. With practice, most people will be able to make a layup, even if they are dreadfully out of shape. Likewise, many people can sing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” If Twinkle Twinkle doesn’t sound quite right when you sing it, try again. At least you knew it was incorrect, which proves that you are not tone deaf. That ability to hear is the kernel of your talent. It is your opportunity to develop it or not. Please don’t expect that you will have quick success. For most of us, any worthwhile endeavor, including photography, will take years of practice to master.

My first photographs were dreadful failures. I would take many shots hoping for a good one. My friends and family would silently groan on the inside when I asked them if they wanted to see my latest photos. Slowly with a lot of practice I improved. I took what talent I had and I persevered. Eventually, I was able to make images that I was proud of. Today, I can make excellent images on demand, which many people assume is derived from my “talent.” Even with the ability to make satisfying images, I can always find areas to improve upon, which may be my real talent.

I preconceived this image years ago. I have been waiting for the right conditions to come together. Fresh snow, a wreath on the door, a clear night, and the time to devote to crafting this image are a few of the prerequisites for creating this photograph. It had very little to do with talent. I like this image enough to share with the public, yet there is a laundry list of things that I would like to improve. I am sure I will be back at it again when the right conditions come together. There is an old saying in the music business that applies here, “Chop wood and carry water.”

This month’s tip: Dream. Dream big and find a way to make that dream a reality. Struggle long and hard enough and you will succeed. If you don’t like your photos, figure out how to improve them and try again.


  1. Love the photo Greg! And I'm finding the truth in this post. I'm working on it and getting better. :-) Thanks to patient teachers like yourself who give me reason to hope! Thank you for being a good and honest friend, too.

  2. This image is breathtaking Greg and the words you have written here could not have been written any better. Thank you for the inspiration!

  3. Thank you Al and Carol! I am glad that you like the image and found the text meaningful. I look forward to photographing with you both soon!


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