I generally have very mixed feelings about being told “you’re talented”, largely because I don’t feel talented. Talent is the natural ability to do something for which people may think there’s not much effort put into accomplishing something and that’s simply a result of people not always being previewed to what you go through to do what you do.
I probably shouldn’t mentioned this because it’ll influence you to sift back through the first 2 year of photos I shared on Flickr but truth be told that I’m slightly ashamed of it at least from an artistic standpoint. I took those photos because I had a camera and not because I felt there was anything more to the craft.
There was no talent lingering anywhere in those photographs and not to say that there’s much now but it was obvious I have no god-given talent for what I do now. Do I have a much better understanding for what it means to be a photographer? Of course but not because it’s an appreciation that you’re instilled with for just owning a camera.
What I will tell you is that my photography is something I’ve been fully working on for the past 2 years. I say 2 years because that’s how long I’ve felt I’ve been taking this expensive hobby seriously. Prior to that, I guess you can say I was just a guy with a camera and little direction. Who chooses to own close to $2,000 in camera equipment without at least knowing that you’re really interested in taking this “hobby” further than any other typical camera owner would. I wouldn’t. Buying camera gear is one thing but overcoming the frustration of learning how to use it is another and there were numerous time where I was fully fed up with the inability to produce the type of photos I assumed would automatically result from just owning a dSLR.
Friends who have just purchased their first dSLR are asking me the questions I asked myself when I first bought mine. “What the f*ck are all these buttons for?” Pressing them all is not gonna get you anywhere. It’s the interest that I assume you have that will get you all the technical answers to your questions.
The only time I never felt guilty for having spent 3 hours of web surfing was when it involved not so much scrutinizing other people’s work but more on reading how they described their experience and reason for photographing what they did.
I read photography essays as much as travel ones. I hound friends for the opportunity to prove to them that they’re indeed photogenic. I submit photographs to contest. I constantly searched for local events in Brooklyn that give me the excuse to venture out and capture the essence of being there. I tried all different settings. I watch Youtube video pertaining to an areas of photography that I seek to improve on. I read magazines. I often Google “Brooklyn Photographers” with the intent to establish some sort of relation with people that share my passion and hopefully have the opportunity to meet up with them for at least coffee.
But above everything else, I’m reminded that the reason I’m embarrassed with my early photos on Flickr is because I had not yet nearly gone through all the endless amount of work that encompassed reading everything from camera manuals to philosophical articles on photography, to doing general research and mostly importantly, simply trying to get over the hurdle of gear addiction.
So do I think I’m talented. Not really. Do I feel that I’m developing because of everything that I do? I like to think so. I think I would be more approving if someone told me that I’m “developing as a photographer” as oppose to stating that I’m talented because that would at least take into account the fact that I’m “developing” as a result of all the work that I do on my end but that you rarely see or hear about.