Now, that statement may sound extreme but hear me out. I’ve been reading into some literature by some leading thinkers and there is hope for us yet!


Carol Dweck, a Stanford professor has shaken up the world of education in recent years with her theory of mindset. Mindset is the idea that brains and talent don’t bring success. She said that there are two types of people, those with a fixed and those with a growth mindset.

If you have a fixed mindset then you believe that you are born talented and spend all your time trying to show everyone how talented you are.

If you have a growth mindset though you believe that your basic abilities can be grown and developed. People with a growth mindset love to learn and have resilience when they face setbacks. Dweck says that all great people have this mindset.

The second thinker I’d like to introduce you to is Malcolm Gladwell a reporter. Who came up with the idea of, “the 10,000 hour rule”. Basically, he looked at some of the best sportsmen, musicians etc from around the world and asked the question, “why are they the best?”. Well, it turns out they just spend all their time working on their skills. David Beckham spent 10,000 hours kicking a ball, The Beatles spent 10,000 hours gigging in dodgy bars in Germany, that little 5 year old piano prodigy? He’s already spent 10,000 hours playing.

So, how does this relate to photography? Well, Cartier Bresson said, “Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst” what he was really saying was, keep shooting and you’ll improve. HCB had a growth mindset. I’m as guilty as anyone of looking at my pictures and thinking, “I’ll never be as good as him”, “He just has a better eye than me”. Where what I should be saying is, “how can I be as good as him?”.

Ask yourself these questions:

Do I offer up my work for critique?

Do I only show my best shots to people?

How much time do I spend actively trying to improve my photography?

Do I think I can improve my photography?

Do I believe that you are born a good photographer?


Elvis: Not pin sharp.

How to change your mindset

Look for challenges, I found street photography really hard at first but I went out and pushed myself. I find flash photography difficult so that’s something I want to work on.

Listen to feedback. There is an old joke in my family, whenever m grandpa would look at my dad’s photos he’d say, “it’s not pin sharp”. Whenever my dad looks at mine he says the same. I could be offended, I could not show him any pictures in case he thinks I’m a bad photographer. I could think, “What does he know”. Or, I could try to focus better next time or choose a better shutter speed. I could put more effort into learning to hand hold better, I could try to nail zone focusing.

Accept that you will fail sometimes and all the best people do.

Go out and shoot, shoot, shoot.

I was told of a quote by Allan Yates from the Leica User Forum which I’ll end with here

“I had no natural talent for photography. I decided that I wanted to do this, and then I worked terribly hard at it.”

Magnum photographer Constantine Manos