Be Better

I’m writing this from behind the counter of the camera shop I work at. I’m pretty tired for a monday. That might have something to do with the amount of celebration that I subjected myself to last night. There’s a good reason for this; I’m from New England and my team is the Boston Red Sox. Last night they won their fourth world series in the twenty-first century. It was a night to celebrate. Boston overcame many obstacles to put the crown jewel on a franchise record 108 game winning season. As I watched the post game coverage, I heard statements from many of the players and coaches about working hard all year and how much that work had contributed to the season’s awesome ending. Being a fan, I can attest to the amount of hard work that the Sox put in over baseball’s long season.

This morning, I’m thinking about the parallels in my own industry; Photography. How many times have I thought I’ve arrived? Sometimes I even think that I couldn’t make an image better, when I undoubtedly could. To make that image better however, would require work. Lots of work. I remember reading about Henri Cartier-Bresson. He was arguably the first pioneer of street photography and photojournalistic styles. He was one of the first mainstream users of thirty five millimeter film, in an age of large and medium format cameras. He was known to take negatives of his work and place cutouts of the compositional aids, such as the rule of thirds, the golden section, and others, over them to understand where he could have composed differently. Through many years of self criticism and critique, he developed one of the strongest compositional skills ever, breaking new ground in photography, and in the process, creating a look that would be copied by generations of photographers.

This draws me back to my own work. How many times should I try again if a shot doesn’t quite pan out? How much work does it require? Well after ten years of shooting, I can tell you that it takes a lot. A whole hell of a lot. But you know what? It’s worth it. Being able to create great work and yet know that there is so much more to do, is an amazing sensation. It keeps my focus on the greater task. And maybe, just maybe I’ll get better the more I try.