Walking and looking, walking and looking.
When I was 18, I read Chuck Jones’ autobiography Chuck Amuck. Chuck Jones was the legendary animator and director for several classic Warner Bros. cartoons, as well as the creator of beloved characters like The Road Runner.
But before all that, Jones was an art student. One day, one of his teachers told him that everybody had 100,000 bad drawings in them, and the only way to get to a good drawing was to simply draw the bad ones out.
Today, the popular number is 10,000 hours. Malcolm Gladwell names the ‘10,000-Hour Rule’ in his book Outlier, as a metric for how long somebody has to practice something in order to become good at it. That works out to about 20 hours of practice a week, for 10 years.
I’ve been shooting photographs since 1996, and boy, have I taken a lot of bad pictures. I’ve walked countless steps, all in search of the decisive moment.
And bad photograph after bad photograph, I’ve kept shooting — I can’t really tell you why, except that I love it. I love searching for beauty, and I love making a picture of a moment in time that will never come again.
Walking and looking, walking and looking. And slowly, without thinking about it, I was getting my 100,000 bad photographs out, and putting my 10,000 hours in. That’s what came into my head, one morning in South Korea, while sitting on the wooden veranda of my guesthouse.
I was in Korea to shoot my second travel photography guide, and facing down my fears of failure again. But as the morning light shone on my face, the memory of those 10,000 hours warmed me up. I’d been here before. I’ve done this. I can do this. Let’s walk.
You can’t see how you’ll get better looking forward. You can only keep walking, and have faith that the struggle will eventually flower.
It’s been nearly 20 years, but I’m still walking, and looking.
Put those hours in and look at what you get
Nothing that you can hold, but everything that it is
Ten thousand Macklemore, Ten Thousand Hours