I could not help feeling a rush of pride run up my veins to my head when I first heard this. I had something that most people did not, I was better than the crowd of camera dangling, picture seeking, not so talented people that roamed the world taking not so great photographs. WOW!
Then I became bored of it, and then… it came back to haunt me when I struggled to explain good imagery, I’d hear the line from my frustrated students and I’d get stuck!
Did I really have talent? Was everything I had done just a result of my inborn talent? Did all the hard work and sweating it out, nearly getting beaten up, and getting stung by bees and wasps mean nothing at all? Was I never going to be able to mentor someone into becoming a good photographer if they did not have inborn talent?
So then I began thinking, (and yes I do think once in awhile,) what did I do to get the understanding that I now have with regard to photography.
Yes its true, when I was first given my brothers Zenit I did take photographs that I think even today have some level of quality. So may be yes those photographs I took during my first year of graduations did make me feel for some time that I was blessed. (Yeh I had something called talent, I was an ARTIST, so what if I had never been able to draw or paint anything.)
With time and thinking about this over and over again I realized that I had to dethrone myself from my elevated talented status where I was going to look down at all the not-so-fortunate untalented souls.
The Good old Zenith 122 ( screw on lens, cloth horizontal shutter and without a light meter ) with which i took the first few.So what had made me take good photographs right from the word go?
(Okay some good photographs, few were out of focus.) I traced my steps back to my childhood and tried to find clues if there were any. My childhood was spent in a tiny village of East Bhutan that was home to country’s only college with a large library from where came home books on everything I could think of. NO I was not much of reader, but YES I would spend many a hour going through books my dad got back provided they had Photographs.
Except for occasional paragraphs my reading was limited to the bylines. From National Geographic that was my favorite to the books on WWII that had graphic images of the Holocaust and other subjects I spent hours staring at the imagery. When I grew up and the family moved to India I was suddenly exposed to imagery like never before, the daily paper, magazines and the numerous advertisement. While my reading did improve (though not much I confess) I spent more time just looking and seeing everything my eyes could catch!
So when some one talks of talent to me today, I say yes … talent is important (don’t want to chase away the talented lot) but its mostly hard work, lots of it! Whether you realize it not its really all about hard work. Those many hours I spent going through one book after another, sitting and watching everything around me from wasps (that stung me quite often) to the life of a busy market, all of this was hard work (that I just happened to enjoy).
Now the next time you think you don’t have the talent to take good photographs, divert your time and energy to thinking of how you can improve your work and may be then some day you’ll discover that you too are talented.