As I have said before, talent is no longer a requirement for success in almost any venture, and it applies especially to photography, music and the arts.
Cutting straight to the heart of the matter, I offer a quote from a famous luminary:
“The vulgar crowd always is taken by appearances, and the world consists chiefly of the vulgar.” ~ Niccilo Machiavelli
To put it in laymens terms: “It is far better to spend all of your energy making folks BELIEVE you are good than it is prudent to spend time trying to actually become good”
This is a sinister yet clearly though out realization once it is deeply embraced, though the implications are not as straightforward as they may seem…
It is not wise to forego all of your practice with studio photography, for instance, including buying equipment that will help you achieve the look you desire. It is better to not believe that becoming some “master of light” will make your career any more substantial than a person who spends far more time video blogging and gaining followers on Twitter than he or she does shooting practice photos. Actually, the shameless self promoter will probably be able to charge more per gig than the hermit-like light master, simply because clients are more impressed with fame than they are impressed skill, all else being equal. In fact, many clients resent the term “skill”….
Skill (and people who profess being skillful) can come off as being elitist or as saying:
“This shit is too deep for your simple ass mind to understand”
That can be very counterproductive, as one might imagine, and part of what makes some photographers famous and others obscure is simplicity and accessibility. The genius of pop culture success lies in ones ability to do fairly complex things with such magical simplicity that it draws in the uninitiated, as opposed to alienating them.
Rap music especially has suffered from this. Many old school (90’s era) rap aficionados abhor modern rap as being unskillful bullshit. These old school rap fans prefer the wittier and more poetic (debatably) rap of old. They feel like cultivating ones lyrical skill is better than hiring ghost writers and becoming internet famous. This is untrue. Balance is the key in everything, and when the goal is selling to the public the balance should shift healthily towards marketing. What good is it if you are a rap God if you, after a year, only have 7 subscribers on your YouTube channel while the mumbling rapper you hate has 700k subscribers and is averaging 7 new subscribers per hour….
Skill comes naturally with repetition in most things (besides perhaps a golf swing, where repeating poor mechanics can damage your game beyond repair). If you shoot enough photos and look at enough good photos taken by others you will achieve any level of skill you desire. Mix in a bit of innate talent and you could become a legend. Be less concerned with getting better at using your flash and buying a bunch of crap you don’t need, and more concerned with sharing your photos with other humans and letting folks know what you do, as well as being interested in what they are doing. When you think about it, it’s so easy to sit in our studios drinking wine with contempt in our hearts and no business rolling in. It is much harder to get out of our studios, put down the wine bottles and pick up our lives before our lives go the way of the 90’s lyrical Emcee….