What makes great photographers? Could it be attributed to natural talent or maybe the fancy equipment they use? Maybe it’s the connections they have. These things definitely don’t hurt but they aren’t necessary.
When it comes to great photographers, they usually all have one thing in common and it’s not the things previously mentioned. It’s the ability to overcome struggle.
Why is overcoming struggle or failure such a powerful key to understanding greatness? It has to do with the type of character it forces a person to become.
To illustrate. Ever heard of the example of an athlete that has natural talent but doesn’t train to match it? What happens is, eventually a person with no talent can overtake him due to resilience and determination through training.
Yes, these fundamental qualities of hard work, patience and dedication are his foundation which fuels his training. They are the key to his continued growth and progress. On the other hand, the gifted athlete relies on his natural talent while foregoing the fundamental character traits that are essential for continued growth. As a result of this, he doesn’t understand struggle or difficulty because everything comes easily to him. Over time he reaches his cap.
This principle applies to the realm of photography. Being given things such as connections, camera gear or even natural talent will only take us so far. Nowadays, there is so much emphasis on equipment, Instagram following or things like these that only serve as a distraction; they pull your attention away from the more important foundational qualities.
It’s the underlying character traits, habits and mindset of a person that will help them push forward and overcome adversity that will eventually shape them into something great. Great photographers know how to be patient, handle adversity and overcome opposition. They know how to handle the struggle.
When we’re told no in a variety of ways, how do we respond? This is a true indication of our character. This is a sign of our potential to be great. Do we let it cripple us or do we fight and continue to endure until we prove successful? These are the two paths.
How can we push ourselves to develop these fundamental character traits of resilience if we find that we are lacking? We need to construct our environment around our goals. One way is forcing yourself to do something you’re not used to, which in turn invites struggle and growth. It’s all about stepping out of our comfort zone and making ourselves vulnerable.
Now at this point, the thought of being uncomfortable and vulnerable makes us second guess if it’s worth it. We have to remember effort and hard work has a direct relationship with results. We have to believe that pushing ourselves into new areas or difficult situations will make us a more well rounded and a more resilient person. A person who doesn’t take no for an answer.
For many of us, it could be straying into a different style of photography. It doesn’t even have to be photography related, anything in your life that encourages change will help us to become a more resilient person.
If we are specifically looking for a way to do this through photography, Street Photography can be especially effective. This style of photography encourages resilience and determination, especially if we are mainly photographing complete strangers. This form of photography has been great in helping many to develop qualities that allow them to overcome and not fear opposition.
If we are a person that deals with shyness or has difficulty with human interaction, pushing yourself in this way will only produce positive results. Think about it, how much of the photography industry is based on building and maintaining relationships with clients?
What if we have no experience in this field and we would like to give it a try?
If you haven’t yet heard of Brandon Stanton or the Sartorialist, they are both great examples of what you can accomplish through the art of Street Photography. They both have learned fundamental skills that have helped them to press forward and become incredibly successful in their careers while at the same time producing amazing works of art.
Keep learning and have fun!