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The Importance of Practice… And How I Need More Of It

“Practice makes perfect.” How many times have we heard that in our lives. How about, “perfect practice makes perfect”?

In my household, my Pops preached “practice makes BETTER,” because you never really practice perfectly or BE perfect. I have lived by that for my entire life… until I got to college. Then…

As I have gotten older (…because I am NEVER growing up), and pursued new endeavors, I realize how important practice is. I was that kid who would get a new video game and throw the manual aside. I’d beat the game, but be amazed at friends who discovered secret rooms or picked up legendary gear, because the manual gave them some little hint that I missed.

While I am a complete hands-on learner and I hate to read instruction manuals, I know I need to. So I am developing the habit of skimming through the manual once, then breaking it into smaller chunks to digest. It’s like looking over an entire buffet before you pick up your plate. I get to see what all of the features and buttons and LED light indicators are before I get started, then I get into the features that excited me. Then I go back to the rest of the stuff.

The need for better practice was never more evident than my time at Otakon. While I got some good shots, I was frustrated with equipment not operating as I thought it should have.

SIDE NOTE: Otakon made me take a hard look at myself and consider whether I wanted to move forward with taking photography more seriously, or just continue as a hobbyist — or even sell the gear and put the camera down permanently. I have been a designer for my entire career, so SERIOUSLY adding a completely different skill has been a bit of a scary ride.

After a few conversations with family and friends (especially you, Timah!), it seems that an overwhelming majority felt I NEEDED to move into taking photography more seriously. (Thank you, Tuley, for your flattery and inspiration and setting me straight on where I reside on the photo food chain.)

So here I am — documenting my journey from hobbyist to trying to be a “tour de force” in the photography world.

So, I spent the Monday after Otakon recouping and decided to crack open the manual to my flashes and camera and everything. I spent the afternoon cracking up at the LumoPro LP-180 manual. The company seems to have an amazing angle that caters directly to the nerd in me. Their manual was very well-written and a joy to read. And guess what — I found out there was a function to use that would have eliminated the technical difficulties had I just fuckin’ read the manual and gotten some practice under my belt…

So, from that day on, I made a pact with the universe that if/when I get a new piece of gear, I will spend ample time working with it before it goes out. I will read the manual — TWICE — and ensure there are no more hiccups.

And not just new gear! My daughter has a foam mannequin head that I have named “Shirley” and Shirley and I have had some late night sessions almost every night since. I am finding new ways to light and experiment, and I think it’s paying off. Still a LONG way to go, but I am getting there. 10,000 hours, right?

And the practice is paying off. I had a great shoot at the DCBX this past weekend and I am still reviewing shots. So many good ones. I was able to capture so much energy and love and talent. The experience was kind of overwhelming. While that event was all natural light and didn’t require much gear, my comfort level was high and I not once felt like my gear was letting me down. The shots I set up came out stunning and the people I shot have been pleased.

Now I need to find a live Shirley, so I can work on posing. My posing instruction can use some serious work! I think that is a major shortfall in my game.

I am a little envious of my friends who have significant others that are models and makeup artists and designers. (Yeah, Shane. I’m looking at you!)

Going from fashion to glamour to cosplay and now to a more surreal, couture-styled fashion interest, my posing instruction is going to have to be on point moving forward. The learning never stops!

Here’s to more practice!