Magic Monday: The Secret

Today I am going to reveal the number one strategy that has completely revolutionized my photography.

It has made me the photographer that I am today and continues to change my images over and over again.

It has helped me more than any book, any workshop, any of the thousands of hours of internet researching, or any piece of gear.

The secret?

practice.

practice.

practice.

Oh…And a little more practice.

Knowledge is absolutely foundational, and having some guidance from some great sources can point us in the right direction and make the journey less cumbersome, but without getting out and actually applying… we end up in a trap of Information Overload.

Knowledge is power only when applied.

I know its not a very glamorous secret.

Dang it.

It takes tons of time, patience, failures, time, trial and error, time, goal setting and evaluation, and time. Did I mention time?

Having taught over 400 students now (wowsers… how lucky am I?!?) the most common source of frustration I see is not related to knowledge at all, but this little tiny element…

As a culture, we tend to want it all really fast.

So many things in this digital modern world are instantly gratified.  (Heck, I get super ornery if I have to wait more than 10 seconds for an internet page to load!) but when it comes to skill…the principle of work and practice still applies.  Its an age old universal law that will never go away.    And the Universe designed it that way for a reason.

I just finished an amazing online course with Jesh de Rox.  The concepts we discussed have changed me forever as a person and a photographer.  But now I sit here with all this fabulous information that as golden as it may be, is not useful at all until I get out there and apply it.  Its actually been quite delightful this year to dramatically reduce the amount of work I take on to allow me more time to…practice and explore.

Some fabulous ways to practice?

Try a 365 Day project.  Take a picture a day like my lovely friend Trisha.

Try a 52 week project and shoot an image/session a week that is connected with specific goals or creative themes.

Feel limited with your season of life?  Think being a SAHM means you can’t get out? Check out this inspirational site for dancers who use their choreography and dance skills from their living room!  A fantastic creative example of finding a way to involve others as support, keep up your skills, and practice your art!

Practice is more about quality time than quantity of time

One major reason I didn’t major in piano performance in college?  The required practice hours.  Oh my heck.  36 hours a week were required!  I realize that I am taking a stand against Julliard trained professors, but I still don’t agree that its the numbers that make a difference as much as the quality.  I can make myself sit in a practice room for 6 hours a day and exhaust myself, or I can put in 2-3 goal oriented focused hours and progress just as much if not more.

Photography is the same. Its not just the time, but how we use it. Do we have a goal?  What is it that we are actually practicing? Manual settings?  Using shutter speed? Composition? Using natural light? Shooting creatively? Interacting with our subjects? Posing?  Seeking for authenticity?  The time that I have carved out for myself this year for practice is geared in this direction. Very intentional goals of areas that I want to explore and improve.  Quality practice, not just quantity.

What helps your practice?

“We learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same.” -martha graham


Brooke Snow is a Lifestyle photographer in Cache Valley, Utah.  She enjoys practicing the piano, composing music, vacuuming, and freshly clipped tulips from strangers yards for a lovely table centerpiece.

Brooke teaches private photography lessons , online photography classes, as well as seasonal photography classes in Logan, Utah.

Like this? Share it!

9 Responses

  1. This is so good for me to hear. I got my first “nice” camera two months ago, and I want all my pictures to look perfect like all the pros I see right away!

  2. I couldn’t agree more. Practice is everything.
    And thank you for feeding my need for gold stars 🙂

  3. I couldn’t agree more. Practice is everything.
    And thank you for feeding my need for gold stars 🙂

  4. Exactly. You nailed it! I did two practice sessions this past week … and they were so refreshing. I need to keep doing that instead of just focusing on my paying clients.

  5. This is such a LIFE lesson. I often wish for the easy way out, but the truth is, good ol’ fashion WORK is almost always the answer. And, as you said, not just any work – or work for the sake of getting in hours – but work with focus! You know what they say, “Practice doesn’t make perfect. PERFECT practice makes perfect.” 🙂 Love ya!

  6. You left the most super comment on my blog and I think I deleted it. I went to respond and could not find it. Just wanted to say thank you!
    My husband went on another book buying spree this week and I thought of you while reading “Why People Photograph” by Robert Adams. There was a chapter on teaching photography. A gift you clearly have! Just a really neat book overall (with a dry title). I’ll blog about it soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.