Are Successful Photographers Born or Made

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photo by remy gervais


Unfortunately there is not a lot of research done specifically about successful dreamer traits and characteristics – at least that I could find. But the generic discussion of nature versus nurture is an interesting one.

It’s more than likely a successful dreamer has a mixture of both nature and nurture.   Not an equal amount of the two, but rather a combination of  what you are born with and what you learn from in your day to day life that determines your success.

Nature: What are some traits that a successful photographer is born with?

Insatiable inner drive to wonder, learn and ask “what if” –  Remember being a kid and having tons of ideas and creative ways to solve certain problems?  Let your natural curiosity and drive take over and keep asking “what if we did it this way?”

Intuition – Reasoning with facts and logic will not get you through all of life’s situations.  Using your intuition and trusting your own gut instincts when making decisions will be valuable to your success as a dreamer.

Positive outlook – You have heard the saying “you cant train nice.”  Following your dreams is hard enough without injecting cynicism and unfounded doubt into the mix.

Nurture:  What are some skills and characteristics a successful photographer learns by being alive?

Tenacity:  You will fall down.  So when it happens, get back up, learn from it an move on.

Quest for Yes – Take no for an answer if you have to, but don’t accept it as the final word. Think outside the box.  Rethink, redesign or rebuild – but always seek out yes.

Effective goal setting – Know how to see the big picture of your dream – and also how to take that big picture and break it down into manageable steps and goals so you have action plans to work from.  Actions you take towards your dream should be intentional and relative to what you want in the short and long term.

Time management – In my experience this is a very mis-understood concept in business and in life.  I heard a quote once that “time is just another word for life.”  So to understand your own priorities, use the word life when saying things like “I don’t have enough life to call my father to say happy birthday” or “I’m running out of  life to finish this project.” How does that feel?

Until next photo,


Remy’s dream is creating opportunities for photography showings and public displays of her work.

  • Remy Gervais, Top Photographer

    Thanks Heather and Rayne – its been such an interesting discussion! xo Rem

  • Rayne

    I totally believe just about every good quality can be learned or self-taught.

  • I’m totally on board with the dreamers can be made. I love Malcolm Gladwell’s take on 10,000 hours. I’m afraid to add it all up in case I’m over that number :)

    Thanks for the great post!

  • Remy Gervais, Top Photographer

    WOW! Cath! 10,000 will be a good number to focus on. Thank you for your insights…xox Rem

  • Malcolm Gladwell examined the causes of success in his book, Outliners. He studied why the majority of Canadian ice hockey players are born in the first few months of the calendar year, how Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates achieved his extreme wealth, and how two people with exceptional intelligence, Christopher Langan and J. Robert Oppenheimer, ended up with such vastly different fortunes. He believes it’s the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.

    From Wikipedia –

    A common theme that appears throughout Outliers is the “10,000-Hour Rule”, based on a study by Anders Ericsson. Gladwell claims that greatness requires enormous time, using the source of The Beatles’ musical talents and Gates’ computer savvy as examples.

    The Beatles performed live in Hamburg, Germany over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than 10,000 hours of playing time, therefore meeting the 10,000-Hour Rule. Gladwell asserts that all of the time The Beatles spent performing shaped their talent, “so by the time they returned to England from Hamburg, Germany, ‘they sounded like no one else. It was the making of them.'”

    Gates met the 10,000-Hour Rule when he gained access to a high school computer in 1968 at the age of 13, and spent 10,000 hours programming on it.

    In Outliers, Gladwell interviews Gates, who says that unique access to a computer at a time when they were not commonplace helped him succeed. Without that access, Gladwell states that Gates would still be “a highly intelligent, driven, charming person and a successful professional”, but that he might not be worth US$50 billion.

    Gladwell explains that reaching the 10,000-Hour Rule, which he considers the key to success in any field, is simply a matter of practicing a specific task that can be accomplished with 20 hours of work a week for 10 years. He also notes that he himself took exactly 10 years to meet the 10,000-Hour Rule, during his brief tenure at The American Spectator and his more recent job at The Washington Post.

    So I say made.