To succeed as a photographer you gotta have talent they tell me. Ok, talent, what are you and where do I go for a second helping? I turned to the dictionary and here is what I found: Talent is a natural aptitude for a thing. Aptitude is a natural ability. Natural is something that exists or is caused by nature, not made by human kind. Read– out of reach, unattainable by human kind.

This search for talent looks like it might be a short one that already ended. But, I’m still curious how talent is defined in a photographer and where this natural ability makes its appearance.

Some have told me that I have talent for photography. I believe that they say this because they find a photograph I created engaging, beautiful, or surprising in some way. When I look for the mysterious talent amongst the process of creating those images I’m hoping that there will be an ‘ah hah’ discovery that will unlock the floodgates of talent in my future image making. I’m also hoping to find proof that little me is actually Mr. Big Time the bearer of great talent. Instead I see that these examples of talent are merely the product of countless unimpressive little details all coinciding in a moment that I looked through an electronic gadget and pushed a button. Surely there must be more to this! There are two areas within this process that I suspect talent may be hiding.

1. In the previsualization of an image. In order to be considered talented, I believe it’s necessary for an image maker to have images flash through his mind. These are ideas that are later created as photographs. I would define these visualizations as something that naturally exists beyond our control. As an artist I think we can make room for them, but really they come in from outside our minds. Think about food . . .did an image of pizza appear? If so you might have a talent there!

2. The visualized images is just that, nothing more, without the production process. These are the countless little things that must happen for a photo to be created – organizing logistics, finding a location, arranging the subjects etc..These things are important no doubt, but I don’t think such individual feats as remembering to bring the camera battery is what we consider talent. However, the collection of all these things with the required focus, motivation, and dedication to bring them together into a photograph might be.

The way I see it today – Talent is something that others say we have and something that we say others say we have. Really, in my humble opinion I think talent is a perceived and mysterious possession of an artist. The artist himself also finds this natural ability somewhat mysterious, but knows that if he does his work and sets the table, talent might just show up again.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find any unquestionable examples of talent in my archive, so I’ve settled for a few aerial photos of a sunset over Kachemak Bay and the Kenai Mountains that I enjoy. Many things came together for these photos, actually ‘taking’ the photo was just another one of the countless required details. I could just as readily claim that I have a talent for living in a beautiful place as I do for photography. They are both things I thoroughly enjoy, but don’t claim ownership or title to.

PS if you were hoping for the secret to success, I can show you where to find it. It’s here in a 3 minute video from TED.