I am a big Merlin Mann fan. Mann is the author of 43 Folders, a blog which started out as an awesome resource for productivity tips and discussions, especially those centered around the Getting Things Done system. This September, though, he decided that he was encouraging less productivity and creativity than "productivity pr0n," and promised less productivity-for-its-own-sake and more writing about how people create. For what it's worth, I loved the productivity posts, but it's also good to step back and realize that working on a system for getting things done takes away from time you should be using to actually do stuff.
But I digress. Mann has an awesome post today on photography, and the process by which a million sucky pictures turn into a few good ones, and teach us something along the way.
Tolerance for Courageous Sucking
Nobody likes feeling like a noob, especially when you’re getting
constant pressure on all sides to never stick out in an unflattering
way. And, in this godforsaken just-add-Wikipedia era of
make-believe insight and instant expertise, it’s natural to start
believing you must never suck at anything or admit to knowing less than
everything — even when you’re just starting out. Clarinets should never
squawk, sketch lines should never be visible, and dictionaries are just
big, dumb books of words for cheaters and fancy people. Right?
I think finding your own comfort with the process (whatever that
process ends up being) might just be the whole game here — being
willing to put in your time, learn the craft, and never lose the
courageousness to be caught in the middle of making something you care
about, even when it might be shit and you might look like an idiot
fumbling to make it. What’s the worst thing that could happen?
Next time I need inspiration to get through a bad patch, or to get
past that persistent feeling that I’ll always be stuck in the lowest
creative gear, I hope I’ll remember to stop and ask myself what exactly
is keeping me from just laying on the sidewalk until I get my shot.
Even if it’s cold, even if I look like an idiot, and even if I risk
missing the first crucial minutes of Judge Judy.
The full post is worth a read; like most of his work, it's brilliant, intelligent, and hits home. Photography is about seeing, trying to capture what you see with the little piece of machinery in your hands, and failing. You fail a little less each time, though, and if you can avoid taking yourself too seriously, it's fun to notice the improvement.
There have been a few beautiful post-storm sunsets lately. Clouds over the highway, shot from the back porch: