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Doing the Work

In photography, getting caught up in the allure of new gadgets and trending techniques is easy. However, a year’s worth of retrospection often reveals a simple truth: the most impactful growth comes not from shiny tools or quick tips but from consistently doing the work.

When it comes to photography, a craft steeped in both artistic finesse and technical acumen, one can easily be swayed by the allure of quick fixes. New equipment, cutting-edge techniques, and elaborate post-processing methods are often lauded as game-changers, boosting your creative endeavors. While these elements have their merits, a retrospective look at your last year in the world of photography will likely reveal that the real key to improvement isn't hidden in high-tech gadgetry or avant-garde methods. The most impactful growth driver is rather straightforward: doing the work.

The Allure of Quick Fixes

As a photographer, you're constantly bombarded with advertisements for the latest gear. Drones promise awe-inspiring aerial shots; mirrorless cameras boast unparalleled low-light performance; and lenses guarantee impeccable sharpness. It's tempting to believe that your next great shot is just a purchase away, and this notion feeds the myth that gear is the primary determinant of quality.

Similarly, many lean into the complexity of post-processing software, convinced that mastery of Photoshop or Lightroom will turn even mediocre shots into masterpieces. The myriad tutorials on “10 quick tips to improve your photography” that flood social media feeds contribute to this illusion.

Technique Over Tools

While equipment and techniques certainly play roles, they are secondary to the actual work of taking photographs. Consider this: the best camera in the world won't compose your shots, nor will it explore new angles or perspectives. Software may correct colors and eliminate imperfections but can't infuse your pictures with emotion or storytelling elements.

In essence, your gear and software are just tools. They amplify your skills but cannot replace the labor and creativity required to take compelling photographs. Heavy lifting occurs long before you edit or even click the shutter button. It happens when you observe, frame, adjust, and finally capture that perfect moment.

The Beauty of Consistency

Consistency is an underappreciated but immensely impactful trait in creative pursuits like photography. Not every shot will be a winner, but each shutter's click provides valuable data, teaching you what works and what doesn't. Every image captured is another brushstroke on the canvas of your growing artistry.

Photographers who consistently put in the work learn from their mistakes quicker, recognize patterns more efficiently, and adapt their style more organically than those searching for shortcuts. You'll find that the pace of your improvement accelerates the more you shoot, review, and adjust. 

Trust the Process

Sometimes, the “work” isn't just about taking more photos; it's also about studying others' work, understanding the history of photography, or engaging in constructive critique with peers. It’s about continually learning, reading, and absorbing new information and perspectives. The work is both physical and mental; it's the daily grind and the long-term commitment.

The Work is the Reward

As you look back on the last year or even the last decade of your journey in photography, celebrate the growth achieved through the simple yet profound act of doing the work. Your dedication, far more than any new piece of equipment or trick technique, is the most valuable asset in your creative arsenal. By focusing on the process rather than the result, you turn each moment behind the camera into an opportunity for improvement and self-discovery.

In the grand scheme, each photograph you take becomes more than just an image; it becomes a stepping stone on your path of artistic growth. So, go out there and shoot. The work itself is the reward, and the road to mastery is paved with the pictures you take along the way.

Now go, and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation through your lens.

About the author

Will Moneymaker

Will has been creating photographs and exploring his surroundings through his lens since 2000. Follow along as he shares his thoughts and adventures in photography.