Raising Our Photographic-Batting Averages

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Fenway Park, Boston

It is draft season for the National Football League. Teams have been scouting players and preparing their big boards all in anticipation of the annual NFL Draft, where college players are selected to join one of thirty-two teams. As an avid football fan, I listen to a fair bit of audio content regarding the draft and the player-evaluation process. I’ve come across the following notion several times and I feel there is a parallel to photography within it. You don’t have to hit home runs in the first round. Try to hit singles and doubles; you can win a lot of games with doubles.

The idea here is that you don’t always have to draft the next Tom Brady with each of your first round selections (ironically, Brady was a sixth round pick). Adding solid, professional, stable, consistent, hardworking, football players to your squad can have a massive impact in the aggregate. Of course hitting a home run is wonderful; who doesn’t want to hit a home run? But swinging for the fences can sometimes lead to strikeouts. Similarly, going for the superstar athlete who has demonstrated some inconsistent, may ultimately land you with a draft bust.

So, how does this relate to photography? I wonder, if by trying to hit a home run when we are taking pictures, we may in fact be more focused on finding something amazing to capture than we are with our fundamentals. Coming home with stunning images that we can have printed and framed is wonderful. Who doesn’t want that? But I wonder if a swing-for-the-fences approach may be leading to more strikeouts than not. Maybe sometimes we should just try to make contact with the ball and get a base hit. Maybe sometimes we should just try to take a nice image that is well composed and has a clear subject. It may never be printed or framed but perhaps by hitting enough photographic doubles and singles, we can grow as photographers, practice our fundamentals, and ultimately raise our photographic-batting average. You can win a lot of games hitting doubles and singles, and I think you can get better as a photographer in the same way.

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