The Gap

There is a reason I don’t upload too many shots of my photography online. I simply don’t think they are good enough.

When I’m shooting a photo, I see it, frame it and have a mind’s eye view of how it should look. I know how it should look. I know the feeling of getting it right. Have you ever wondered what people mean when they say they got a shot right? It means the photo looks how they envisioned it to be when they shot it. It’s not always the case where it turns out right. That’s the relentless pursuit of photographers.

This was one of those rare photos that turned out better than it looked even in my head. Shot on an iPhone.

Joseph Radhik (arguably the world’s best wedding photographer; also an alum of my college) gave a talk at my college a year ago. It was an amazing talk. It truly was. He was scheduled to talk for 30 minutes. He went through almost 2 hours without a single person moving. At the end of his talk, I asked him this question - How do I get to the point where my shot is as good as what I see in my mind? His answer — “Mind the gap between the craft and the art”.

The art is what you have in your mind. The craft is your skill with the camera. There is a gap between where these two are. You will have to practice and hone your craft to get to the art. JR told me that this gap still exists for him and he’s happy with only about 80% of his shots. This was truly surprising. I realized then, that practice matters. Concentrated, persistent, effortful practice. Not the practice where you just repeat something you are already good at.

This one turned out exactly like I imagined it. Worked hard for it.

Another time I was reminded of the gap was this video. The text is an excerpt of a recording by Ira Glass. This Zen Comic also captures it perfectly. (I highly recommend clicking on both links)

However, I believe that this “gap” is not just for photography; or for creative people. It applies to everything you do. Frustrated by how your football curves when you try to bend it? Hate how that poster you made looks? Angered by your poor performance on a test? Why do you have these emotions? Because there is a gap between what’s in your mind, and what you can do right now. I’ve been unfair to myself. And as painful it is for me to admit, I have given up when the shot doesn’t look as good as I want it to. The gap still exists, and it’s as wide as it was 2 years ago. I’m writing this as a way to remind myself to keep at it.

The only way to get there is to work hard and practice. Don’t give up.

Close the gap.