The blessings of incompetence

For years now, I’ve been trying to learn the art and science of photography. I’m fascinated by the power an image, be it still or moving, can wield in telling a story and changing a life.

I’m also fascinated by how much I stink at it.

99 clicks out of 100, I fumble the variables that comprise a quality shot – shutter speed, aperture, ISO, framing, focus, background, and so on. I fiddle with this dial and that option, trying to capture a moment that has long since winked out of existence.

I curse my ham-fisted attempts to produce something in the same hemisphere as artists like Bobbi+Mike, Ben Poenish, Philip Bloom, Zack Arias, and Ansel Adams. I pout and fume at my incompetence like a spoiled Disney stepsister, brainstorming all manner of ways to pummel my camera into subatomic particles after another disappointing shot.

And oh how I need every bit of this humiliation.

It forces me to seek help from others far wiser than me, to drop the twin stones of arrogance and pride and let experts tell this self-made emperor exactly how naked I am.

It calls me to greater accountability in all phases of my life, something on which it’s easy for me to speak but far harder to meaningfully and measurably live out.

It keeps that one click I might get right enough to headline an article in its proper perspective.

My passion will always outpace my ability. I’m learning to accept, even enjoy, that tension.

Because reversing the two isn’t a pretty picture.

Andy Janning

Andy Janning

Andy Janning is the author of the books Heroes, Villains, and Drunk Old Men and The Breast Cancer Portrait Project, an 8-time state and national award winner for overall excellence ... Web: Details