“I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent. Curiosity, obsession, and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism, have brought me to my ideas”
– Albert Einsten
The idea that some people have an innate talent and that you can’t be an artist if you don’t have talent is so ingrained in people’s minds that almost every time I mention my skepticism to somebody, they inevitably look at me like I had said the weirdest thing. “We have talent shows on TV, right? How can you not see that some people are just born with a superior talent and others aren’t?”
I owe it to my mentor Robin Griggs Wood the revelation that talent is largely a myth. You should really watch the video below to hear it from her own voice. If you don’t want to watch the whole video, just meditate on this:
“There isn’t a single thing that I do that cannot be learned, practiced and achieved to great success by anyone.”
Motivation, perseverance, study, and simply hard work count so much more than talent and this is especially true in modern photography. I’d be willing to admit that Mozart composing his first minuet at age five was an indication of some innate ability, besides his father’s teachings, but nowadays photography requires not much more than learning a bit about exposure and the rules of composition.
The former is handled automatically very well by most cameras and this fact removes much of the technical difficulties. Compared to something like classical music, photography is child’s play. Processing at the computer is comparatively much more difficult, but that can be learned too.
Once you have acquired the basics, it’s a matter of having good teachers, looking at the work of others, shooting a lot, examining your work with a critical eye and getting it examined by experts. Not a single element of this is beyond the reach of anyone. Those who excel are not those who were gifted with talent, but those who were constantly focused on improving their art. That doesn’t mean it is easy. In fact, it takes a lot of work and perseverance to excel.
“I don’t think there is anything such as “talent” in photography. Nobody jumps out of the womb and suddenly has a “skill” to shoot photographs. And definitely nobody has some sort of “skill” to shoot street photography (in terms of having some sort of special “street photography” gene).
We need to cultivate our skills through learning, practice, and persistence.”
What are your thoughts? Do you believe there is something as talent or not?