Development of Expertise,  Photography

Photography and Deliberate Practice

An excerpt from How To Become The Best at Anything.

When I first started photography, there was no World Wide Web (it was 1970, I used film). I subscribed to the Time Life photography series. It was a series of books on photography that was delivered on a monthly basis.

Each month I would read and reread each book. Then I would practice the techniques presented in the books. I would devise experiments to test a hypothesis involving photographic techniques. I would perform the experiments and test my hypothesis. This was my deliberate practice with feedback. The books became my coach, the results of the experiments were my feedback.

I carried a camera with me wherever I went and took photos, but not random photos. They were again experiments to perfect a technique. This was deliberate practice, I was practicing to get better. I would practice as much as I could.

I would limit myself to one camera and one lens. Sometimes I would pick a theme, like reflections, and just take pictures of reflections. Another time I would practice taking photos without looking through the viewfinder, just pointing.

Eventually I could pre-focus the lens, set the exposure, compose the picture, without looking through the viewfinder. I could hold the camera up, press the shutter release, and have a picture that was in focus, properly exposed, and composed correctly.

View some of my favorite photos –