Do you ever wonder what it is that makes some photography businesses so successful? Is it that they have such exceptional raw talent as photographers? Is it that they have the world's most wealthy and beautiful clients? Is it that they are marketing geniuses? I guess it's possible that one or more of those things are true of them, but that's not what separates them from everyone else. The truth? Hard work - a lot of hard work.
If you've read Outliers, by Malcom Gladwell, you're familiar with the idea that it takes 10,000 hours to be truly "great" at anything. I won't go into all the details of the book, though I highly recommend you read it. Gladwell makes the arguement that the greatest success stories essentially come down to 2 things: a lot of luck and a lot of practice.
He argues that across industries, across different disciplines, and across artistic endeavors, the standard is the same: it takes 10,000 hours to truly become great at something. It takes that much practice to truly master your craft in a way that no one else has. It takes that much practice to become "great."
Of course, "great" doesn't equal "successful." That almost always requires something else - luck. Here's the thing though - I think a lot of people sit around waiting, hoping, praying that they'll get lucky. Unfortunately, luck is not particularly predictable. And, even if you get lucky, you still have to be "great." You don't become great by accident, and you don't become successful just because you got lucky.
I think this is great news! I think this is so encouraging for those of us that want to become great artists, and build successful businesses. I think it's a call to action, for each of us to practice, practice, practice. It's a challenge to pick up our cameras even when no one is writing a check. It's a reminder that the more we shoot, the better we see. Since January, I've taken thousands of photos, and less than 10% of them are for paid clients. I don't know what "practice" looks like for you, but maybe it's stating a personal project. Maybe it's photographing your kids. Maybe it's offering your talents to a charity organization. I'm not even worried about "great," but right now, I'm striving for "better."
Luck, though it's not something you can plan for, is really about what you do with it. The truly great stories of success are about people who had put in their 10,000 hours and were uniquely able to take advantage of their situation. The good news is, practice is something you can do something about.
What are you doing to become better?