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You Need More than ‘Natural Talent’ to Make it as a Photographer


Movies on the big screen sometimes have valuable nuggets of wisdom that can be applied to photography (and life). We recently shared one such clip from the movie “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty.” Here’s another one from the movie “Boyhood.”

In this 3-minute clip, the main character, Mason, has a conversation with his photography teacher, Mr. Turlington, in the class darkroom. It turns out to be a fatherly lecture about the importance of adding hard work and other qualities on top of natural talent.

Here’s a snippet of what is said:

Mr. Turlington: The images you’re turning in, they’re cool. You’re looking at things in a really unique way. Got a lot of natural talent.

Mason: Thanks.

Mr. Turlington: Yeah, but that and 50 cents will just get you a cup of coffee in this old world. I’ve met a LOT of talented people over the years. How many of them made it professionally without discipline, commitment and really good work ethic?

[Mason shrugs]

Mr. Turlington: I can tell ya. I can count it on two fingers. Zero. It’s not gonna happen for you, Mason. The world is too competitive. There are too many talented people who are willing to work hard; and a buttload of morons who are untalented, who are more than willing to surpass you. As a matter of fact, a lot of them are sitting in that classroom out there right now. Hm? You know what they’re doing? They’re doing their assignments. Which is what you’re supposed to be doing, but you’re not. You’re in here. Now, why is that? You’re special, Mason?

…and a little later in the conversation:

Mr. Turlington: Who do you wanna be, Mason? What do you wanna do?

Mason: I wanna take pictures. Make art.

Mr. Turlington: Any dips**t can take pictures, Mason. Art, that’s special. What can you bring to it that nobody else can?

(H/T Bokeh)