There was a point somewhere during my first year of photography that I set a number in my head. That number was ten thousand. I wanted to shoot ten thousand images during my first year. I missed that mark by a mere two weeks. I was okay with that because the number represented something that couldn't be measured numerically.
I was told shortly after picking up a camera that the greatest thing I could do to grow and improve as a photographer was to take pictures...lots of them. Sounds simple enough. Almost too simple. However, I took that advice at its word and put a goal in front of myself.
Just past the one year mark, I hit 10,000 images. I recently hit 18 months behind the viewfinder, and am astonished to say that I have now surpassed the 20,000 image milestone.
Through this short journey, I can vouch for it: my friend's advice is true. Getting more time with your camera and more images taken will grow you into a better photographer. Yes, there is much to be studied. Of course, you need to learn the mechanics and how exposure levels are determined. Obviously learning what makes for a well composed photograph is important. But you can't learn those things before you go out and shoot, they must be learned while you go out and shoot.
Macklemore's song Ten Thousand Hours describes it well, and he hits the nail on the head when he says: "The greats weren't great because at birth they could paint. The greats were great because they paint a lot." It is often viewed that you are either born with a talent, or you aren't. We often miss the fact that talent is developed. It is trained and honed over time. Someone won't become a great photographer by studying the right material...it is something that will have to come one click of the shutter at a time.
I was able to go out recently and shoot in the Seattle Public Library in Downtown Seattle. (If you've never been, I highly recommend it. I know what you're thinking...it's a city library. However, most city libraries haven't been voted best architecture by Time Magazine. So, there's that.) This was a neat trip for me as it was one of the first places I ever went to shoot when I got my camera. It was amazing to me not only how much better I knew my equipment and how it would function in the various settings, but more so how my eyes were opened to new angles and shots that I had not even noticed before.
I'm excited as I compared my first shots within the Seattle Public Library to those of my most recent trip, but I'm even more excited as I consider what I might catch after 20,000 images from now.