One of my passions in life is to help others achieve the best of their abilities. I encounter quite a few people who believe that they were born without talent. Here is what I say to them... ~CB
You are an Artist
I am a Photographer Not an Artist
I know what some of you are thinking. You are not creative because you weren't born with the "artist" gene. You can't draw. You can't sing. There is nothing at all creative about you. When I started photography, I felt the same way. But it didn't matter because a I wasn't going to be an artist; I was going to be a photographer. I would be taking photos of things, not creating them. Artists were those insanely skilled and creative types, whose work was unbelievably gorgeous. I was pretty sure that they came out of the womb with pencils and paintbrushes in hand, ready to show off their God-given talents, of which I apparently was not blessed.
Hitting the Wall
I was cruising along thinking in this manner. My work was getting better in that my photos were gaining technical clarity and strength. My focus was on improving in my shots, approaching tack sharp levels. I could dial in different apertures and shutter speeds, and I was gaining basic compositional skills (sound familiar?). Something was lacking, however, but I had no idea what. Worse yet, the quality of my photos had seemed to hit a plateau and weren't getting any better. Since something was missing, I assumed it had to be talent. I hadn't been born with it, and I was only going to get so far on what I had. Because of this, I would never be any good.
Wait... Your Work Doesn't Suck
Let's talk about today. Here I am blogging both here and giving talks to photography clubs across the country. My art has received some attention and awards. I lead photography tours and workshops. So if I didn't have any talent, what changed?
When I am teaching, my students always ask me how long I have been shooting. They are usually surprised when I tell them just over six years. The next question is always the same. "How did I accomplish this?" I say that my work exponentially improved when I got past the Myth of Talent.
The Myth of Talent
What is the Myth of Talent? I think it is best explained by someone who has dedicated her life to tearing down this myth. I would like you to watch this video and meet Robin Griggs Wood. Working with Robin has changed my whole outlook on how I go about my creative endeavors.
No longer do I accept that I am limited in any way. There is no artistic gene that you are either born with or without. Successful artists are the ones who have honed their craft through hours and hours of practice and discovery. They have taken the time to nurture their creativity and allowed it to grow. Through all this, they refuse to give up and keep working until they achieve their goals. From this strength, their art flows.
My Challenge To You
For the next week's time, I want you to record how you refer to yourself to others. Also, record what you say in your head to yourself about your work as well. Is it positive? Negative? Do you refer to yourself as having no talent? If you do then you have work ahead in finding ways to be kinder to yourself. I will leave it to you to do what works best for you but here is a great article describingwhy self-compassion is important.
Wrapping it Up!
To answer my student's question more precisely, I got to where I am by not limiting myself and falling into the belief that talent is the determining factor to your success. I know that I can figure anything out, then practice it repeatedly until I have mastered the skill at hand.
As I put more tools in my artist's toolkit, my options to express myself through my art grows as well. These tools now allow me to create images, instead of just taking pictures. In the coming posts, we will talk about these tools so that you can add them to your toolkit as well.
As always, if there are any questions or comments you might have about today’s post, please add them to the comment section below, or you can email me.