10,000 hours

In his book “Outliers“, Malcolm Gladwell talked about the studies by psychologists  that to gain expertise in any field, you need to spend at least 10,000 hours in pracice:

The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert — in anything” writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin. “In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again. Of course, this doesn’t address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do. But no one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know tto achieve true mastery.”

Henri Cartier Bresson, famous French photographer who is considered to be the father of photojournalism, said that one of the best way to improve one’s photography skill is to shoot every day.

While there is no “odometer” on my camera to count the mileage. I can attest to the eternal theory that “Practice makes perfect”. Earlier in my photography career I have initiated a project which I shoot every day for a full year. After that year, when I reviewed the shots I have taken, I can clearly notice the improvement in my photographic skill.

Of course keep shooting the same thing, or shooting just for the sake of fulfilling a requirement, will never improve your skill. During that full year of shooting I will come up with new mini-projects or interesting subjects to shoot for a week, before moving on to a new target. In “Outlier”, Gladwell maintained that keep practicing for 10000 hours isn’t enough, your practice has to strafe for getting better, and the performance goal has to raise constantly.

To this day I will still carry a camera with me anytime I go, and try to capture the interesting “boring” day to day life I see. The more boring a scene is, the harder it will take me to make a photo, thus helping me to gain just that much skill.


~ by Clarence on May 5, 2009.

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