Sometimes, someone does something that makes you stop and think. And sometimes it is that pause that allows you to move forward.
That type of moment hit me yesterday. I was sitting on the couch. The TV was on in the background, but I can’t remember what was on. I wasn’t really watching it. Instead, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed.
Then I paused, my thumb hovering just above the screen. It wasn’t an image that caught my attention, but the text on the image.
Two words: “Be Terrible.”
Instagram can be a great place. I look for inspiration from the photographers I follow, but sometimes, there is a story that goes with the image, something as powerful as the image.
The post that caught my attention was on Keegan Hall’s page (@keegan.hall). We’ve never met. But his drawings are outstanding.
This post caught my attention, though, because it was personal. He talked about developing as an artist and the work required to learn a skill and improve on that skill before working toward being great at whatever it is you want to accomplish.
Sure, some people pick up things faster than others. And some seem to have a natural aptitude for things. But Hall is absolutely right. It is important to “be terrible” at something along the way to being great.
This post made me think. I thought back to my first photos. Terrible would be a good definition. I had a basic understanding of what a good image looked like, but I outside of turning the camera on and triggering the shutter, I know how it worked. I didn’t understand lighting.
I wasn’t a photographer. But I wanted to learn.
My wife and I lived a block away from the freeway at the time. She studied photography in college, so she issued a challenge. If you can get an in-focus shot of a car going 70 miles per hour, you can shoot anything. Can you do it?
I tried. I failed. And I tried again.
Then I connected with friends who were professionals. I asked for advice. I created my own class where every photographer I met became a professor.
All of a sudden, the images weren’t so terrible. Still not great. But better.
Now, a few years later, photography brings in a little money. I’m still learning. There are still plenty of terrible images, but each mistake provides a lesson. And in each lesson there is improvement. The good images keep me going – like the one at the top of this post, it’s one of my favorite images, something I snapped from a golf cart during an assignment at Gulfstream Park. The bad ones make me better.
So, if you’re passionate about something, go for it. Like my friend John Lok – a ridiculously talented photographer – says to me when we would see each other on a sideline, “keep pushing.”