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16 years to 10000 hours


One of my favourite books in recent years was Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success (2008). The main reason I liked the book is that unlike the stereotypical self-developing style title, it does not try to teach the readers how to become successful. On the contrary most of stories in the book are the product of observation that is processed in the author’s analytical mind about how the successful became successful. The funny thing is that you would find out more about why you are not so successful than how to be successful.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell with others on my bookshelf.

Anyway in the book Gladwell repeatedly mentions the “10,000-Hour Rule” - the idea that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill.

After I read this book I developed a new habit of counting hours of things that I do/did in order to measure the current skill level. So now you can see where I am heading with this.

I work full time during the week days like any other. Some street photographers I know  often take their camera while commuting to shoot, but that’s not really an option for me and most of time after work I can’t really go out for shooting.

Type of photo I take at home on week days.

In the end I can only dedicate my time for photography on weekend. Even that option has to pay the price of coordinating with my wife so that I can still provide quality (not quantity) time together while indulging myself with camera. As a man if you lose you win, you know?

Quality time strategy - Use your wife as a model !

So only 52 weeks in a year I have. Let’s say every weekend I go out on one of Sat or Sun. Each time I do spend 3-4 hours of searching and shooting on the street then it will give me roughly 182 hours a year.

After each photo shoot session I roughly spend 1-2 hours of post processing. As a hobbyist photographer I haven’t really developed “a style” yet (of course, duh!) So I tend to try many different techniques of post processing.

Before
Furthermore I am a type of person who thinks the post processing really brings a new life to the photo. As soon as you get JPEG from your digital camera, it's already processed. Why can't I process it myself from RAW format as the way I want? To me post processing is like packaging my present with different papers and it does take some time.

After
Hence I have extra 78 hours a year that will sum up to 260 hours per year. In this rate it will take 38 years to reach 10,000 hours. Oh my goodness.

I need to squeeze my brain to find more hours just to be sane as I wish to be a master level before I am 71-year old. Having said that I realized not only the actual shooting improves my photography skill. Reading and seeing other people’s (great) works definitely have been helping me to improve so they need to be counted.

A bit of drama to find his photo book. Maybe next time.

“You must know what’s really good in order to know what’s really bad” - Scott Kim

Yes, the quote is from me, not from Garry :)

Considering the amount of photo related blogs, YouTube channels and other sources, I am confident to say I do spend about an hour per day on photography that gives another 365 hours a year and by adding all them up, my magic number is 10000 / 625 = 16 years.

Another work from the greatest.
Photo by Garry Winogrand from The Game of Photography

With the passion I have and the dedication I would need a lot, by the age of 49 I can be a master of photography! :)

It’s funny to think in this way but at least this gives me a clear idea that how difficult it is to be really good at something. How much effort you need to spend and the dedication you need to push your wheel. I really do think that the photography has become a pleasant page of my life and wish to continue to do it this way. While following my own joy if mastership comes as a prize at the age of 49, then I would call it a bargain.

Keep Shooting Scott!

All the images were published under the "Creative Commons" licence.

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