The old joke is “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice…”
So much of what we do in life are skills; learned behaviors. Some come easier than others. And some we even have a natural “talent” that makes them exceptionally easy or we’re intuitively competent at a high level.
When we’re good at something and want to continue, whether it be natural ability or practiced or a combination, we need to practice.
I can’t now recall the exact wording, and believe or not I can’t find the quote via Google (how odd is that, eh?), but Liberace said “If I miss one day of practice no one really notices, if I miss two days of practice I can tell, and if I miss 3 days of practice my audience notices.” And that’s from one of the most gifted keyboardist. True professionals practice constantly. Throughout the week during the NFL season we get news reports of items related to the ongoing practices. Baseball has an entire month dedicated to intense practice before the season, combined with daily fielding and batting practice. Musicians constantly practice for hours a day. Performers rehearse over and over.
And we as artists need to practice as well. Sketchers need to sketch every day. Painters need to paint. And photographers need to photograph.
But, just slinging stuff in the air, while good from time to time, isn’t necessarily beneficial to developing the talents to meet our goals and desires.
Another proverbial saying is, “practice makes perfect.” I had a coach that augmented that to be, “perfect practice makes perfect.” If you continue to practice poor behaviors or methods then you entrench yourself in them. Practice is about growing and refining.
As photographers we need to practice our technical as well as creative skills. And some days it’s just hard to motivate to produce anything. The muse is not upon us, right? However, doing something, anything, can kickstart that muse.
It’s good to know where your weaknesses lie, and then you can specifically pursue practice to develop and enhance that weakness to become a strength. Or to take an ordinary technique and find the unique or surreal use of it.
Have trouble with composition? Then pick a single subject and challenge yourself to do 4 ordinary or typical shots followed by 8 that are new and unusual.
We’ll be covering some straight forward items over the next few months, most if not all are perfect for a base to practice to develop new understanding and hone techniques.
In the meantime: practice, practice, practice!