Musings on Photography

An awful lot of photographs

Posted in art is a verb, process by Paul Butzi on April 18, 2010


I very much enjoy About Last Night, a blog written by (among others) Terry Teachout. One of the recent entries consisted of the following quote, which I like quite a lot:

“The way to determine whether you have talent is to rummage through your files and see if you have written anything; if you have, and quite a lot, then the chances are you have the talent to write more. If you haven’t written anything, you do not have the talent because you don’t want to write. Those who do can’t help themselves.”

George V. Higgins, On Writing

I don’t much care for the word talent, for reasons I’ve covered here before. But if we take this usage to mean “you are likely to be successful”, I think that the quotation seems pretty much on the mark. What’s more, I think it generalizes well. Look at your files. If they include quite a lot of photographs, then you’ll probably meet with success as a photographer.

All this reminds me of a wonderful ad that delighted me many years ago. Data General, a smallish company that built minicomputers, ran an ad that announced their plan to sell a lot of their minicomputers, and went on to say “Because if you’re going to make a small inexpensive computer you have to sell a lot of them to make a lot of money. And we intend to make a lot of money.”

I bought the M9 because I’m hoping that having a camera close at hand pretty much all the time will mean I’ll take an awful lot of photographs, because if you want to reap the rewards of photography, you have to make an awful lot of photographs. And I intend to reap the rewards of photography, even if my rewards might not look much like the rewards everyone else seems to want.

2 Responses

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  1. Juha Haataja said, on April 19, 2010 at 12:58 am

    Well written!

    Also, I think that the reward has to be in the taking of photographs, not in the stage of “having taken” the photographs. If you just want the fame and glory (I haven’t found any, though), it is hard to keep on taking photographs, but if the actual taking/making of photographs is the source of pleasure, then things are good indeed.

  2. Rob Ferguson said, on April 19, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Paul, as a special present to you:

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