There seems to be a narrow perception among many photographers as well as in the minds of ordinary people who comment on their work… the emphasis is often on having amazing technique and expensive equipment, maybe some years of experience and the right networks or know-how of the best locations.
I’ve been thinking lately that the main factor in success in photography is passion. Since it transcendes all of those (you can have passion for photography even with no technical knowledge or fancy equipment).

I also believe that rather than the listed factors being the cause of reputation/commerical success/amazing photos, I propose that passion is the reason for the eventual success… and technique, equipment, experience, networks and location knowledge are observable or consequences results of passion, rather than causes of success. Let me explain…

The reason I believe I have good technique (regarding focusing, manual settings etc) and I try and buy good equipment is because of regularly practice as well as a passion to get the perfect picture (or at least constantly improve). Hand me a cheap camera of a brand I’ve never used and put me in front of a model or sunset, and I’ll still be passionate about getting an awesome picture in the situation. And where the camera is limited in features or lenses, I’ll compesate by moving around or using a different approach to getting pleasing pictures.

The reason why I have nearly 3 years experience in photography and don’t give up is because I love what I do, for fun, art and satisfication of working alone or with others. I keep working at it even when I am not getting paid because that’s not the objective.

The reason why I have a network of photographers, fans, models and musicians who all love my photos to various degrees, is because probably they can sense the passion and emotion conveyed in the photos, as well as  the passion conveyed in words when I explain what I do and why. I talk to some people at events or on campus, sometimes they don’t get a chance to see my camera or the photos on the LCD, but they still tell me at the end of the conversation that they can see I am passionate about what I do. They sense my determination and artistic vision when I explain how I take macro photos of people’s eyes or a series of photos of urban landscapes in Cape Town. They don’t even seem to care whether I am good or that I must show them photos to prove that it’s as amazing as it sounds – they just seem to trust that I am passionate about what I do and therefore this must manifest in dramatic and technically good photos. Maybe they can’t tell if my technical skill and equipment is closer to amateur or professional, but they are still very interested because of my vision and passion. In contrast, there are excellent pro photographers who do stock photos, products, business interiors or speeches who might find it hard to talk passionately about what they do, or  their topic doesn’t appeal to most people.

Lastly, building up a series of locations in my own time for shoots and landscapes is also part of my passion… I love finding forests, harbours, broken down buildings, empty wharehouses, graffiti… I take photos when I go past, I plan back when the weather is different or when I have a model or band with me.

The inspiration for this post draws from something I saw online recently, which says that photographers and artists get into what they do because they have good taste or vision. Their limited ability and technical knowledge means initially they can’t achieve what is in their heads, but they perservere until they can. That’s why I believe artistic vision is independent of age, experience, training, equipment or technical ability. Vision, passionate and good taste are somehow connected and work together for photographic success. Maybe someone can make it into commerical photograph without those, but my feeling is their work will lack inspiration even if it is technically good. Their work will probabably feel like work – they are doing weddings or parties because it pays the bills, but they would rather be out doing portraits or landscapes.