You Can Do This!

I am just finishing up my second season of "The Joy Of Painting" by Bob Ross. For those who don't know much about Bob, he was a painter who lived in the latter 20th century and was known for his gentle nature and "simple" wet on wet painting technique. He was often quoted as saying, "you can do this!"  
The fact is most people completely tuned out what he said moments later, and rushed out and bought his latest painting kit in hopes of becoming the next great painter.  What he said moments later is that you must practice these techniques, and when you learn those techniques, you can apply them and great wonderful paintings.  I believe, in essence, he was correct on both accounts.
I think in many ways photography is the same way.  The beginner often looks at great wildlife photographers like Art Morris and Moose Peterson, and truly believe they can run right out and create beautiful images.  In fact they are right, but the timetable to get there is all wrong!  Look back over your life.  Did you do anything that didn't take some practice?  Swimming, biking, basketball and soccer took years of your time before you really began to grasp the finer points.  Why then do so many think photography is different?
I think the answer is this:  everyone has a camera, and so everyone thinks they can make great images.  In the back of their mind they are equating a snapshot of the family dog with a shot of an eagle snatching a fish from the water.  The two, of course, are very different indeed.
The other huge mistake people make is equating equipment to great images.  Although it is true that cameras and lenses do play a major role in creating great images, only practice and patience combined with gear will make you a better photographer.  I can't begin to tell you how many times someone has said, "wow, you must have a nice camera to make that image."  Well, actually it is a fairly nice camera, but it is about  9 years old and way off the current specs.  The camera is only about half the equation.  The other half is YOU!  
In conclusion, let's use our painting analogy one more time.  If I were to go out and buy the whole Bob Ross kit, with all the accessories and play his DVD in the background, do you think I could create his painting?  Well, the answer is yes and no.  My first attempt would no doubt fall flat, but as I kept going and practicing, my chances of making it to his level increase day by day.  The same is true of photography.  You will never get good, by sitting on the couch and watching videos of how to be a great photographer.  The only way is to get out there at least several times a month and make it happen.  Get out there and do it!  Practice, practice, practice!!


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