In response to some of the comments I received on the post, I’ve Got Spirit. Yes, I do., I wanted to clarify my purpose in writing about the whole generational/when one is born and how it affects one’s chances theory.  I don’t think that at 33 I’m old or washed up or not able to keep up with young whipper snapper photographers.  I was remarking on the fact that it is interesting to think about whether or not there is a perfect age for a photographer to be as successful as possible.  Not just successful, but as successful as possible.  The answer might be yes.  It might be no.  It’s just something I’ve been thinking about – whether or not our specific ages, down to the year and/or month in which we were born, affect our chances at becoming as successful as we possibly could be.  I’m talking about the level of success that so few people ever attain in life.  Reading this chapter in the book (The Outliers) made me think about how my specific generation has been right on the line in terms of our photographic education, what I was or was not taught in school about new technologies, and what younger or older people in the same situation were taught.  Professional photography is clearly an industry for self-motivated creative thinkers.  There are so many determining factors that go into whether or not someone will be as successful as possible.  Only one of them is age and the potential opportunities presented to someone because of their age.  Some other influencing factors are talent, practice, luck, adaptability, and persistence.  These are all just thoughts…my own little thoughts and opinions.

4 comments to Clarification

  • Nice post, I’ve been talking about that book since I read it awhile ago. I found it totally fascinating and inspiring. I liked the example of the Canadian hockey teams and how the entire roster was born within three months of each other. While that’s a passive example, the point is that seeking out even a small opportunity (and keeping your eyes and ears open) can lead to something much greater down the road. There are a million ways it can manifest itself regardless of age in photography and life. One professional example for me was how a small magazine assignment led to a much greater business relationship, taking my career in a new direction.

    In photography and the arts, it applies to both business opportunities and creativity. I think that the new generation (I’m 33) of photographers will certainly have different opportunities than I did when I came out of school, but I’m not sure they’re able to recognize and respond to them like someone with more experience would be. Interesting dilemma.

  • I too have been thinking about the whole outliers thing and how it relates to photography. I really believe in the age of digital photography people have been able to shoot a lot more and more often as well. While photography like any other activity or sport, repetition is the key to getting better.

    So while back in the day while I shot film during a shoot I would fire away a modest 10 rolls per shoot (on average) which equates to about 100-160 photos depending on which camera I used that particular day.

    In terms of a numbers game I shoot about well over 2000 frames or more per shoot now, for the last 3 years since I’ve really made the switch to digital . So I think coming up in the digital age can for sure accelerate the process of “getting better.”

    The idea of repetition isn’t the only factor that makes people get better but as Gladwell suggests the ideas of your surrounding, upbringing, access to resources etc. all play an important role in the success of the individual.

  • Michael and Edwin,

    Thanks you both for the great comments. Glad I wrote this part two to the original post. The notion of shooting more frames and whether or not this makes a difference in our skill level is also very interesting. Definitely something to think about.

  • Hey Emily, yeah that’s definitely an interesting question.

    I think that each generation (and lets say generation meaning every 5-10 years) of new photographers faces a world that favors certain skill sets. The kid with ADD that was born in 72 and was bored out of his mind processing film in his high school photo lab may have turned into a hot shot if he was born in 87 and was taking digital imaging when he was 17.

    So that’s to say… I think the perfect year/month combo has a lot to do with the personality and approach that each individual photographer brings to the table.