What if I told you that all you need to do to become a great photographer is take one simple photo? It’s the exact same photo that all the greatest photographers in the world today, and throughout history have taken.
Uber-celebrity photographer Annie Liebowitz took this shot. So did master landscape photographer Ansel Adams and iconic street photographer Henri Cartier Bresson.
So what is this shot and why haven’t you heard of it until now?
The shot I’m talking about isn’t a secret only shared by the masters. The shot I’m talking about is the one you will take today. Yep that’s right.
Today and what you do with this moment is by far the most powerful thing you will ever do in your photography career. Here is why:
When we look at the masters of photography or any master of their field, it’s easy to forget that they all had to start with that first tentative step. I can guarantee you that the first shot they all took was mediocre when you compare it to the latest or last shot they took. But they took another and another and another and with each shot they developed new skills and most importantly confidence.
Reading photography blogs and books, listening to podcasts and watching online tutorials is a great way to learn the craft but having all this knowledge is wasted if you don’t get out there and shoot everyday and back yourself.
The greatest writers in the world all have very similar disciplines when it comes to writing. Where and how they do it may differ but the thing they all have in common is that they write something every single day even when they have nothing to say, even if all they write is dribble or a single word, they still write something.
So, just like some writers, there are days when I look around and I don’t see anything worth photographing. It might be that the light is not right or I just can’t find my groove, and then there are other days where I see amazing images everywhere I look.
The more you shoot, the more you’ll see
The interesting thing is: the more I shoot the more I see. Just like writers find their words and ideas flow easier when they are disciplined and write every day.
So that one little shot that you take today has very little impact on its own, but much like a sentence in a writer’s notebook may eventually grow to become a novel, that little shot may evolve into a new lighting style, or style of shooting or post-production technique.
It’s the little things that you do everyday towards your goals that will make the biggest impact. They are cumulative. Just like doing a single workout in the gym won’t make you look like a superhero but if you worked out everyday, you would start to notice a definite change in your body within weeks.
Now if you just go to the gym everyday and do the same workout without challenging yourself, then eventually your body will get used to the workout and development starts to slow down. The secret is adding weights every week or running farther or faster and mixing things up so you don’t plateau.
The same can be said for developing your skills as a photographer. Taking a shot every day is going to really train you to see better and look for great images but if you ramp things up and challenge yourself by trying new lighting styles, different photography genres or post-production styles, you will really accelerate your growth.
Just be consistent
It’s easy to get caught up in thinking that we need to clear hours and hours each day to develop as photographers but by far the most significant thing you can do to develop your craft is being consistent.
Never underestimate how powerful little things can become. The tiny acorn seed doesn’t seem like much on its own but with the right conditions can grow over 100 feet tall. That one little photo you take today may only be a few megapixels now but has the potential to grow and evolve to an exhibition, a billboard or more importantly an image that becomes someone’s most prized possession.