Thursday, September 19, 2013

Haroon Zaidi: Linda Cicero and Tina Seelig- Genius vs. Persistence

Today we met Linda Cicero and to see all the photographs she took was amazing and awe inspiring, originally it was even a bit daunting.  She told us how she has been taking photos from a young age, so she definitely has had an affinity for them since a young age.  I mean looking through the photos I’ve taken hardly any that are as good as hers, and more honestly and likely none of them are even close to that caliber.  It made me feel as I always did when I used to watch the other kids paint in my art class, incompetent.   Ummmh Mrs. McCarthy….. is abstract good enough?
                So there I was, sitting feeling very small, when she mentioned that out of all the hundreds of photos she takes maybe one of those she will use.   That honestly surprised me, I thought that for her it was like magic, she would point her camera at something and bam, awesome picture. But, no, she actually has to work really hard it.  It reminded me of a quote by Thomas Edison, he was trying to make the light bulb, I think that was Thomas Edison, and he had tried literally tried 100s of different of materials such as cardboard, wood, and wool.  People told him to give up and he could have given, he could have been like doh, this is too hard.  But you know what he said, I have not failed to make a light bulb a hundred times, rather I have successfully  learned how to not make a light bulb.  When he finally did come up with the light bulb, it was one of the most significant inventions ever.  Maybe it’s like that for photos, I am not taking bad photos, rather if I choose to be persistent and open to the process and critique I am learning how not to take bad photos and will eventually be forced to take good photos by process of elimination.
                I can’t help, but remember a Malcolm Gladwell, in which he discusses the Beatles and how they used to play at cheap hotels, because all the labels had told them they sucked.  Then they came back to Britain, where they were told that guitars were on the way out.  However, the ten thousand hours they had played, sufficiently raised the level of their playing, that they were successfully able to get signed any ways.  And we all know how badly that turned out for them right, sarcasm of course.  Although, nobody knows about the original drummer Pete Best and everyone seems to forget Ringo Star.  But the moral of the story is that, if you stick to something you get better at it.  The sad thing is most people when they pick up something seem to quit, right before that 10,000 hour mark.
                Now the reason I am writing about this, is not just constrained to photography or music, although both are hobbies of mine (I am teaching myself guitar and obviously take photos for this class).   What I am trying to say is that to some degree genius can be taught, and to some degree that genius is basically persistence.  It reminds me of the conversation we had with Tina Seelig, she said that creativity can be taught, and the more I think about it the more I sort of agree with her.  Furthermore, I think Tina Seelig's theory can applied to any characteristic such as genius.  I just think that people might start at different baselines of  Genius and creativity, however all people if they are willing to put in the effort can definitely improve themselves.  There’s just a cost.
                Maybe I should take Linda Cicero up on her offer of her giving one critique and advice on their photos. In either case, I know I want to continue to take photos and improve my skills.


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