14 – On Mediocrity

14 – On Mediocrity

In today’s over-competitive world, the word mediocrity has taken on a decidedly negative connotation. When we say something is mediocre, we mean it is not good, even worse than average.

In reality, on any scale by which we can measure the quality of what we produce, something that is of median quality is, by definition, better than 50% of the rest. Is that such a bad place to be? We don’t think so.

There are some photographers whose work we admire greatly. Looking at our bookshelves right now we can see books by Steve McCurry, Sebastião Salgado, Nick Brandt, Art Wolfe, and others. If we put our work besides theirs, we can’t help feeling that ours is so much inferior that the only word to define it is mediocre, in comparison.

Our first advice to those who feel the same is the following: if you want to overcome your mediocrity, do more work. Study the work of the masters and practice deliberately. If it takes 10,000 hours to become proficient at anything, as Malcolm Gladwell says, then start rolling up your sleeves.

There are no shortcuts, but we can guarantee you that you will become better, if you don’t give up.

“I know that to paint the sea really well, you need to look at it every hour of every day in the same place, so that you can understand its way.”

Claude Monet

In the end, however, you will never be completely satisfied with whatever goal you have achieved, because dissatisfaction is part of human nature and is what drives us to reach even loftier goals.

Another piece of advice that we feel we should share is this:

Stop comparing your work to that of others.

Most of all, never ever compare your work to what you see posted online by those who rake in thousands of likes for each photo they post on Facebook or 500px. That is just a popularity contest and the factors that determine popularity have little or nothing to do with quality.

If you do and if you make your satisfaction depend on popularity, we can assure you that you will never be satisfied.

“I’ve been woken from enlightened man’s dream / Checkin’ Instagram comments to crowdsource my self esteem.”

Kanye West

Appreciate what you have, do not compare yourself to others and every achievement will be more meaningful.

What do you think about this? Let us know what you think by leaving a message using the button below.

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  • May 15, 2019

13 – Make Friends, Don’t Network

13 – Make Friends, Don’t Network

The topic of today’s episode was inspired by an article on artsy.net that presents the results of a research on the relation between the degree of success that many famous artists enjoyed and the number of their connections.

The conclusion of the research is that “for successful artists, making friends may be more important than producing novel art.”

We discuss the importance of making connections in today’s world, be it in person and virtually, on social networks. It turns out that there are some behaviors that would be considered normal, if not absolutely expected, in real life, that most people forget in the virtual world.

We also give some tips for making the most of online connections, without looking like a complete dork.

What do you think about this? Let us know what you think by leaving a message using the button below.

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  • May 1, 2019

12 – Ignore the Critics

12 – Ignore the Critics

Unsolicited critiques are the bane of online photography forums. In this episode of the podcast we argue that you should ignore the criticism you receive online, unless it’s coming from someone you admire and respect and who you know has your best interests at heart.

Most critics have a tendency to put others down for purely selfish reasons and they should be ignored at best.

It also follows that you should refrain from criticizing the work of others, because it’s highly unlikely that you’re not doing it for purely selfless reasons.

As Steven Pressfield writes, criticism is a manifestation of the Resistance but, unlike other manifestations, it hurts others, not just ourselves.

What do you think about this? Let us know what you think by leaving a message using the button below.

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  • April 3, 2019

11 – Don’t Fear the Amateurs

11 – Don’t Fear the Amateurs

A day doesn’t go by in online photography circles without some professional decrying the fact that amateurs are driving prices down, ruining the market, and basically killing photography and everything that’s good and fair.

We don’t think professionals should worry about what the amateurs are doing and we try to explain why we believe so in the latest episode of the podcast.

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  • March 26, 2019

10 – On Personal Projects

10 – On Personal Projects

The importance of pursuing personal projects to revitalize one’s creativity cannot be overstated.

Whether photography is your job, a side gig, or just a hobby, it is important to do what you love, or the well of creativity will soon dry up.

We discuss this topic in the latest episode of the podcast and give practical tips on how to find personal projects to work on.

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  • March 13, 2019
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9 – What Next?

9 – What Next?

For this episode of the podcast, we give voice to one of our listeners and a great friend of us, Pia Parolin.

Pia used the button we put under every episode to record her question for us, which can be summarized as “Now that I have become proficient with my photography and started showing my work, what next steps should I take to be more successful and appreciated?”

We believe that Pia is already doing great with her photography and taking all the right steps towards closing the gap, but we tried to answer her question anyway, with an eye towards those who are struggling a bit more.

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  • February 27, 2019

8 – The Myth of Time Management

8 – The Myth of Time Management

On this week’s episode of the podcast, we continue the discussion we had last week about reclaiming your time to pursue your passion and artistic endeavours.

Time is a fixed quantity and you can’t really manage it. You can only manage the work you have to do, by assessing priorities, blocking time slots, using systems, and more.

This episode is chock-full of practical tips about this topic that so many struggle so much with, so you sure don’t want to miss it.

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  • February 20, 2019
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7 – Learning To Say No

7 – Learning To Say No

We all like to say we’re busy and overwhelmed with too many things to do. Managing your time can be really tough, but it becomes easier when you realize that you can’t really manage time: all you can do is just managing the work you have to do.

One way to do this is to learn to say no to the constant barrage of demands that work, society, friends, and even ourselves put on us.

We discuss this topic in the latest episode of the podcast. This is the first of two episodes about time management. In the next one, we will give you some practical tips that we use to organize our days.

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  • February 13, 2019
Person making a clay vase

6 – Quantity Over Quality

6 – Quantity Over Quality

In the previous episode we talked about motivation and inspiration. We said that we shouldn’t wait for inspiration to strike, for the Muse to pay attention to us, before we get down to do work. The best artists find inspiration by just getting down to work, every day. As Todd Henry says, “I only write when I’m motivated to. I just happen to be motivated every day at 8am.”

Picasso also said: “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

Many of us, however, even when we do commit to getting down to work every day, get stuck in a rut or experience writer’s (or photographer’s) block. We grow a sense of dissatisfaction with what we are creating. This in turn leads to doing less work and so the circle repeats itself.

In part, this is what Ira Glass is talking about. The fact that we have good taste makes us feel that what we are creating is not good enough and induces frustration.

The worst thing we could possibly do to fight this, I believe, is striving to always create the best possible work. The best thing, conversely, is striving to create the largest volume of work possible.

Person making a clay vase
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  • February 6, 2019
1 Sligachan Falls Bridge, Isle of Skye, Scotland

5 – Motivation, Inspiration, and Routine

5 – Motivation, Inspiration, and Routine

In this episode of the podcast, we go deeper into the conversation about deliberate practice and try to answer the question:

Where does one find the motivation and the inspiration to continue practicing, every single day?

We argue that we cannot expect that those two elusive things will somehow float down the river, when we are laying on the grass, watching the clouds in the sky.

Sligachan Falls Bridge, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Motivation and inspiration don’t materialize out of thin air, but must be nurtured. Finding the resolve to practice every day takes courage and determination. Rituals, routines, and habits can help us dig motivation up from the ground.

Find some inspirational quotes about motivation, inspiration, and routines below the fold.

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  • January 30, 2019
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