Natural Talent


The concept of talent is firmly engraved in our culture, we often see those great people archiving great things and we wish we could do what they do if only we were that talented.

But what if the people we idealise weren’t actually more talented than us. What if we were just as talented as them? I think an interesting person to look at is Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Because he is generally described as  the most talented street photographer we have ever had but he famously quoted  saying “your first 10.000 photographs are your worst” and that doesn’t seem like the words of someone that was born with a  natural talent, but rather someone that dedicates thousands and thousands of hours to master a discipline.  In 2007 a study was initiated,  which looked at there’s actually no such thing as a natural talent,  just hard work and dedication and making sure your effort is focused on the right areas.  Basically  intelligence  and skill are things we aren’t born with  but things we develop through practice and this is true across the board.

Apart from a few athletic examples where something like weight might be an advantage.

But it’s not what I’m talking about here so what does this mean? Well, firstly it means that you can achieve the same level of skill as the people you idealise,  all those film makers, artists, photographers, you can be as skilled as all those, as good as them. Secondly it means that everything you have already achieved is not by innate talent but through your own hard work and dedication. So well done you, don’t ever give up because you don’t think your talented enough.

We now know it’s not how ability works, embrace mistakes  because mistakes are discovering  gaps in your knowledge that you need to overcome  and you need to find the right resources  in order to help you overcome this. Traditionally  that would be teachers, lecturers and libraries but today we have the internet, we have the greatest resource that humanity ever had at our fingertips, we have phones in our pockets. So stop worrying about what you can’t do

 and just do it .

Beware of feeling comfortable, as soon as you start to feel comfortable, challenge yourself, change something,  try something new, learn to let go of old work, we all have our best work that we feel that is our best but try to better them,  try to forget about them.

And move forward, if you keep coming to old work  it means that you are not progressing.

Try to push yourself, build on what you have already done. Ask yourself questions, ask for feedback and critique on a regular basis, it can be difficult because it’s hard to hear it.

And it’s the critique that’s really gets you  but it’s probably the most important  because you know they are right,

take the temporary pain for the long term benefit.

You need to know what you’re doing wrong,  ignore haters and trolls on line. 

Learn to not be precious your work.

Learn to embrace the criticism and move forward.

always keep learning,  you have never learnt everything

because the world moves forward.