The famous Czech photographer Ladislav Sitensky passed away recently at the age of 90. In reading about him, it was reported that he had made over 500,000 photographs, 50,000 of which had been published. He began photography at the age of 14. If you assumed that he had produced the same number of images each year from that young age, he would have created the equivalent of 6,578 photographs a year. Any way you crunch the numbers, that's impressive.
The only way one gets better as a photographer is by shooting. Reading books and magazine articles, surfing the Web for camera and lens reviews, watching videos are all well and good, but it eventually comes down to getting up, walking outside, and making photographs. And as I often tell my students, it's about the willingness to go out there and make a lot of bad photographs as you explore and try to understand what you are seeing and reacting to.
Athletes like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Lance Armstrong may have all been more with a natural talent, but that talent would have been meaningless had they not put in the time to to harness that talent and learn skills that allowed that to take advantage of those innate abilities. So, it is with the photographer. So, it is with me. I'm not putting myself in the league with those guys, but it's the awareness that the process is the same.
The difference between those that take full advantage of their abilities and those that don't is simply doing the work necessary, in other words commitment.
If this is one of the things that I know I do well and that I can become even better by making more time to practice it, why choose not to? It's a question that I think most of us don't ask often enough, because if we did, we'd realize that the only one standing in the way of us growing as artists is ourselves.
Reading about Sitensky, I see a wonderful example of what living a photograph life looks like. It's a beautiful thing to see and be reminded of.
Additional notes... Learn directly from professional photographer Ibarionex Perello! He teaches at BetterPhoto's digital photography school, including these online photo courses: The Pursuit of Light and Portrait Photography Using Available Light.