“I wish I had your look”, “one day I get there”, “genius”, “you are blessed”, “your pictures are perfect,” “you are f… good”,
These are some of the frequent comments I receive on the day by day of my blog and facebook. To tell the truth it is always good to read comments like this. They do very well for the EGO. What does not do well for the EGO and much less for the photographer is to believe that the person is born good or not good at something. That the person is either talented or not, has got the knack for photography or not!
I just read a book, indicated by a very successful photographer, and this book was about PRACTICE. According to proven studies, when people increasingly practice something, being wrong, redoing exhaustively, they are improvinf their skills. In other words, the talent in question is not more than skills that are acquired and perfected as the individual practices. The more an individual practices something, the more talented he or she is. Now it is needed to understand why and for this you need to study a bit of brain physiology.
The physiology of the acquired skills works like this, in a very summarized way… the more I practice something, being photography, rope jumping, running, a language, etc., the greater is the production of a protein called MYELIN and it has an important role in the process of “TALENT”. This protein acts as an insulator of nerve connections that are created by our brain when doing a certain activity. Whenever we, humans, practice something, an electrical impulse is emitted and propagates through these nerve connections that may have different speed and accuracy.
According to Wikipedia, the Myelin is a lipidic substance, of shimmering green color and birefringent character, originating from a few cells of the hypothalamus. Myelin is present in called myelin sheath (formed by oligodendrocytes in the central nervous system and by Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system) which surrounds some nerve fibers, causing them to have a nerve impulse conduction faster (saltatory conduction). The fibers enveloped by myelin are precisely called myelinic. The fibers that are not coated by myelin are called unmyelinated fibers and have a slower impulse conduction.
Thence the wonder, the more I practice a certain activity, the greater the thickness of the myelin layer that insulates this nerve connection making it quicker and more precise. It is as if this nervous connection was becoming a broadband Internet as we practice. It’s like we paved a land road as we repeat the execution of an activity. To train… to train… train to make them faster and accurate.
Not that talent and geniality do not exist, they do! But usually people tend to believe more in talent than in practice and effort… In fact, it is easier to say that I was not born for photography than to sweat blood every day and become good. Much easier.
Come on, again, the more I practice, the more myelin I produce, and the more I isolate the nerve connections responsible for a particular activity, in this case, photographing. The greater the insulating layer of the MYELIN, the greater the automatism, the speed and precision of electrical impulses and  increases my ability to perform certain activity.
Another study goes even further and says that a normal human being needs about 10,000 hours of practice at something to become an expert. Hence the question arises me automatically: do I already have 10,000 hours of photography practice? No, not yet, but I’m working on it and I know that the more I shoot, study and practice activities related to it, every day, the faster my journey will be. This answers a question that many make me:
– Question: Why does your photography evolve so fast?
– Answer: Because I produce myelin daily. I practice, make mistakes, fix them, get around them and transform my skills, before almost nonexistent, in something solid through exhaustive practice. My internet now is broadband thanks to my effort. A lot of effort by the way.
Simple as that. To be talented is to produce myelin, is breaking a sweat, is photographing and studying while many are in the bar. So from now on, every time you read a compliment on my blog or facebook, make a mental and automatic translation “Congratulations, you are very hardworking,” “what beautiful light, you must be practicing a lot,” “the sleepless nights are paying off, aren’t they? “,” keep practicing a lot Vinícius”, “How much myelin, huh?
I did an analysis of several talented people that I know in my business and I had a pleasant surprise. They all practice more than the average. Michael Jordam used practice free throws after the conventional practice, Zico used to take free kicks after training with the team. They were wise and knew that their talent was greater because they produced more MYELIN.
And hurrah for MYELIN.
(For those interested in delving into the subject read the book “The Talent Code”)
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