Alan's Blog






Now there’s a word to think about.

The dictionary states that it means: Strong and barely controllable emotion.

All those people who are talented in some way or another must have a passion about what they do in order to succeed in their particular area of expertise at a world class level.

As I said to JP just the other day, it’s no good having massive amounts of talent and not working hard to maximise your ability - your talent - that’s where passion comes in. On the other hand, working at something you’re passionate about doesn’t mean you’re going to get to world class level as you must have considerable talent to be able to achieve that status. Without that talent you won’t make it to the top. For example, which is what JP and I were discussing; musicians. For most serious musicians, music is their life. They are often consumed by it - and most of their friends, and often their family, are musicians. However, as someone with no musical talent, if I wanted to learn to play a musical instrument, as I have done at times, no matter how hard I practice I reach a certain point beyond which I don’t improve – a sort of plateau that indicates I have reached the limit of my ability, or talent. This, of course, extends to all areas of expertise, not just music. How wonderful it must be to have a talent of some sort.

Of course, one can be passionate about something without needing any talent at all. One could be passionate about music even without talent, meaning that you could be passionate about listening to music. This is a much different sort of passion than is required to play an instrument but never-the-less strong emotions can be involved. Don’t mix up the words talent and passion.

I don’t have any talent at all for anything that I know about. I’m certainly not a talented engineer like I.K. Brunel, for example. Two of my interests which could possibly be described as passions include travel and photography. One certainly doesn’t need any talent to travel but to become a good photographer it certainly helps to have that artistic talent - and I’m certainly no Ansel Adams or Lord Snowdon. One way of improving one’s level in any particular area is to master the techniques involved in that subject. In that way a certain level of competency may be reached but it will still be impossible to get to that ‘maestro’ level without talent.

How wonderful it must be to have both a talent and a passion for the same thing. Despite being a somewhat passionate photographer, albeit not a talented photographer, I have, in the past, dabbled in work where I’ve been paid for my photographs / photography, however, I cannot believe that anyone would want to become a professional photographer, which seems to be something a lot of young people want to do to earn a crust after leaving school or college. And I do mean earn a ‘crust’, as it is highly unlikely that they will eat well on what they make out of their photography. One reason being that there is a lot of talented photographers out there - and a lot who sell their work for next to nothing – or give it away! Since nearly everyone can now afford a digital camera and computer it seems like everyone is now a mainstream photographer - and that means a lot more competition for an ever shrinking number of photography commissions.

If I was a professional photographer, I’d have to run my photography as a business. After spending a fortune on high quality cameras and lenses (and a computer), I would first of all have to find some clients who might be interested in paying me. Then I'd have to keep them happy and take photographs of things that were of absolutely no interest to me whatsoever. I’d have to deliver on time every time, regardless of weather or conditions. I’d have to chase clients in order to get paid and deal with all the aspects and expenses (and accounting) of running a company. What fun is that?

Another problem facing photographers these days is that publications pay so little for an image that it’s not worth bothering with. Many years ago, one of my images could realise, say. £200, of which I would receive half as the agency took their 50 %. Nowadays, some people are even happy to supply their images FREE on sites such as ‘Unsplash’ for example, or just for a few pennies on other ‘stock’ photographic sites. What’s the point? Good quality cameras and lenses cost a fortune and publishing companies are now getting their photographs for FREE because everyone thinks they are the world's greatest photographer and are happy to share their images. It’s true that there are a lot of good photographers out there - but how many are really making a living out of their work is debatable. In fact, many of them now run 'photographic tours' and 'Masterclasses' in order to make their photography pay.

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To me, being an amateur photographer means I can take what pictures I want to take, when I want to take them. In other words, I can enjoy my photography. And that’s what my passion is all about. I do it because I want to - not because I have to.


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