Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/01/22

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Subject: Re: [Leica] PAW, PAD etc.
From: "B. D. Colen" <>
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2001 11:01:58 -0500
References: <>

Martin - First, a slight point of disagreement - well, not so slight. A
mediocre photographer can shoot 100 rolls a day, every day, all his or
her life, and still be a mediocre photographer. However, if a person has
the innate ability to SEE, then I couldn't agree with you more.

A bit of personal observation, if I may, and please forgive any pathetic
self praise or ego thumping:

In my high school and college days, when I was shooting constantly, I
used to think I was pretty damn good. In fact, I at one point was going
to dedicate my life to photography. But one thing lead to another, I
became a writer, and only shot occasionally. Literally months would go
by between rolls of film, and then I'd pull the equipment out, shoot
some rolls of my kids, and put the cameras away.

To make a long story short, the more time passed, the crappier my
photography got. Oh yes, occasionally I would get something I'd really
like...but basically, what I produced was mediocre at best.

Then in 1993, when I went to East Africa and Somalia as a reporter for
Newsday, I had to shoot my own stuff. I shot a lot. Constantly while I
was there. Granted, the subject matter was pretty incredible, but when I
looked at everything I shot, I thought, 'oh, yah, I was pretty good
once. I do have any eye.

Anyway, at that point I reinvested in Leica equipment - M - and began
shooting more and more regularly. Lo and behold, what I got got better
and better.

Now, as I am shooting families etc. professionally, I have literally
found that the results of each succeeding shoot are better than those of
the preceeding shoots, to the point where, about 18 months into this, I
really cringe when I look at the photos from the first couple of shoots.

So what does this suggest - God know it doesn't prove anything? First,
making photos is a great deal like riding the proverbial bike. Get back
on the bike after years of not riding and you DO in fact remember how to

And, two, practice makes better.

B. D.

Martin Howard wrote:
> Shan jotted down the following:
> > I won't swear as to who it was, but I remember reading that (Stieglitz or
> > HCB or ...) had a personal goal and routine of shooting a roll of twelve
> > every day for exercise no matter what ! That's one way to get your "eyes"
> > in shape.
> I've recently hit on the idea that photography is a lot like music: taking
> pictures is a lot like playing an instrument.  Unless you practice at it
> constantly, you forget important nuances, you loose the 'flow'.
> I firmly believe that the major difference between a good photographer and a
> mediocre photographer is the difference between five rolls per week and five
> weeks per roll.
> M.
> --
> Martin Howard                     | Our ability to communicate far outways
> Visiting Scholar, CSEL, OSU       | our willingness to think critically
> email:         | about what is being said.
> www:        +----------------------------------------

In reply to: Message from Martin Howard <> (Re: [Leica] PAW, PAD etc.)