We learn a lot from experience whether that’s a sport, hobby or our profession. Practice really does make perfect.
10,000 hour rule
Malcolm Gladwell popularised the idea that it takes ten-thousand hours to master a skill. While often debated the idea behind it is sound: it takes time to become proficient. When tutoring aspiring photographers towards the end of the course I see their images change from advanced amateur to having commercial value.
Learn from mistakes
If we do something and it doesn’t work we learn not to do it again.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.”
The experience teaches us to try it another way until we get the result we want. A predictable, repeatable result we can add to our skills list.
Choose to learn from other’s experience
Before trying to reinvent the wheel it makes sense to see if somebody else has found an answer. There’s no point investing hours learning from our mistakes when we can learn from others.
Traditionally we gain experience by studying at school and university, learning new skills through observation, direction and practice. In a safe environment, we can afford to make and share in others mistakes. Studying gives you access to practice more areas of the profession. You build a wider set of skills to solve problems when they happen on a job.
Apprenticeships, internships, etc, let you learn from an experienced professional. Working as an assistant photographer taught me skills such as client relationship, pitching, quoting and working with allied professionals in a real world environment.
On the job takes longer
The traditional role of studying, assisting and learning was disrupted through e-learning. You can buy a camera, take some exotic holiday images, watch some videos and call yourself a pro. It’s better for professionals to make mistakes while learning than on the job risking client work.
Wherever you learn, you still need to put in hours of practice: more or less 10,000.