Copyright Scott Bourne 2005 - All Rights Reserved

Copyright Scott Bourne 2005 - All Rights Reserved

This post starts out with a story about the Kentucky Derby. Please be patient and I promise you’ll see how it’s relevant to photography.

This year, the Kentucky Derby winner was “Mine That Bird.” The horse was a 50-1 long shot. Nobody gave him a chance. Nobody but jockey Calvin Borel. Borel decided to the best job he could with the horse he had to ride. He didn’t make excuses. He didn’t give up. He didn’t decide that his situation was impossible. He just won.

In a post-Derby interview I heard the jockey Borel say something that hit me like a lightening bolt. When the announcer asked Borel how he got the underdog horse to the finish ahead of the rest of the pack, Borel responded matter of factly: “I just rode him like he was a good horse.”

WOW! There’s a bunch of meat in that short sentence. Borel was saying that even though the evidence was the horse didn’t bring the same ability to the field as the rest of the contenders, he was going to ride the horse AS IF he was the 0ne that could win.

In other words, Borel didn’t abandon his skill, technique, craftsmanship and ability as a jockey just because his horse didn’t look good on paper. Instead, Borel did the things he does when he rides any winning horse. And wouldn’t you know it, his horse won the crown.

So how do we take the trip from the blue grass of Kentucky back to this photography blog? We ask ourselves some simple questions…

Are we treating each photograph as if it were a masterpiece? Are we treating our camera as if it were the best available? Are we treating our light as if it was perfect?

It’s easy to decide that our camera isn’t good enough or our model pretty enough or our light perfect enough. But what would happen if we took the very best photograph we possibly could every time? What if we DECIDED to make every image the best it could be, no matter what.

If we treat our point and shoot compact camera like a DSLR – guess what… it will perform more like a DSLR. If we work with a model who maybe doesn’t have the looks to make the cover of Playboy and simply TREAT her like she did, maybe the images we make with her will be just a bit better.

Remember the horse jockey’s quote. To win, he just “rode him like he was a good horse.”


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