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Fantasy keys won’t get you in.

“Fantasy keys won’t get you in. Almost every single thing you hope publication will do for you is a fantasy[…]. What’s real is that if you do your scales every day, if you slowly try harder and harder pieces, if you listen to great musicians play music you love, you’ll get better.”

I may start using this Lamott quote with my students. They often come to me confused and sweating about the future and what they were born to do. I ask them one simple question: “What are you passionate about?” I tell them, for a moment, forget any notion of “innate talent,” what do you find yourself up late at obsessing over?

If you love it, you can learn to do it.

There’s this strange misconception that communications industries—advertising, design, photography, journalism—stay afloat based on raw talent and aptitude, as if you’re born knowing how to write an opus. Physicists don’t innately understand the theory of relativity. Likewise doctors, lawyers, counselors and the ilk aren’t born into their craft. It takes time and dedication to learn every trade.

Both Lamott and the podcast sang the same tune, only with different words.

The Gross and Shapiro reading, Changing Perspectives, tells photographers to reconstruct reality by breaking free from conformity to see things from a new perspective. Climb a tree, crawl on your belly, flip upside down, or, as Clay Stalter might suggest, get on a merry-go-round and drag your shutter. Learn the rules, then learn to break them, but with deliberate purpose.

It’s true. I might also add you have to learn to laugh at yourlself and you can’t be afraid to look stupid. I’ve perfected these last two; it’s the first set of suggestions I need to work on.

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