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How to Become a Great Photographer

Like our friend JAY Z says:

Don’t be good, be great.

And something I realized:

In studying the masters (great photographers) of photography, what we are truly seeking is our own personal greatness.

What does it mean to be ‘great‘?

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Great: what we *really* mean to talk about is to be ‘magnus‘– [meghs in Proto-indo-european]. Same word as ‘magnum’ [the peak of greatness]. Mighty, big, and strong.

A great photographer as a matter of elevation?


To become ‘greater’ is to go higher. To also go deeper (plumb the depths of photographic knowledge and artistic-aesthetic philosophy), and also to go *FURTHER*. Henri Cartier-Bresson as only a half-great master, as he gave up on photography towards the end of his life [he saw photography as *inferior* to drawing and painting].

Aesthetic ideals

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To become a great photographer means:

To discover a new beautiful aesthetic in photography, and to have continued motivation to take photography *FURTHER*.

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On becoming the uber-photographer

Uber means ‘above’ and ‘beyond’. To become an uber-photographer means:

To disdain what your contemporaries are doing, and rather … finding inspiration from the past masters, and seeking to super-overcome them!

Mexico City street photography ERIC KIM

How does one become great in photography?

eye juxtaposition Cindy Cuba

Certainly ‘practice makes great’. We should consider photography as a practice, and a strengthening of sorts.

Perhaps the best analogy for photography is like strength-building (bodybuilding, powerlifting):

To become stronger, to become more dominant, to have a more epic physique, and to augment your muscles … you must augment your resistance and difficulty.

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If you keep lifting a 1-pound dumbbell (even for a million reps), you won’t get stronger.

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Self practice

I am convinced:

The only way to become ‘better’ is to use yourself as your own personal ruler, and to judge your progress as a photographer based on your own gut, instinct, and personal self-assessment of yourself.

In this way, self-critique as a photographer is good (not to see yourself as ‘bad’, but rather … to simply judge your progress).

Thus my simple answer to become a great photographer:

Continual self-critique and self-development and self-improvement in your photography, using yourself as the sole judge!



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