A story to tell

It’s easy to shoot beautiful photographs, especially if you have enough time to practice and examine photographs of masters.

Proof: Just check ordinary people with no specific photography background shooting beautiful photographs in social media. I can easily say that they are even better (in terms of beauty) than most of the masters’ photographs. 

In his popular Outliers book, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.

Similarly, Henri Cartier Bresson says:

Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.

(I have shot more than 30K photos, and I can say that Bresson couldn’t see digital photography coming.)

So it’s obvious that if you want to shoot beautiful photographs, you need to shoot a lot, but if you want great ones, you need more. 

“A guy walking under a nice light, so what?” is one of the questions we should ask ourselves when shooting. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t shoot these cliches. Mine is below.

But if we want great photographs, or if we want to make our beautiful photos great, we need more. 

We need a story to tell. 

I see 2 paths for this:

One is working hard to find out the story in one photo by shooting thousands of beautiful photos. I’m that guy and it’s not working well for me.

The second, much easier, but much longer, is to tell our stories in more than one photo. 

So, going back to Gladwell’s 10000 hour rule, my conclusion is:

We’d better focus on stories rather than great photographs. If we spend our thousands of hours on shooting stories, we’ll initially make great stories. 

Beautiful, then, becomes just an outcome. 

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