While down here in sunny Florida I have been exposed to Palm trees. Very different than the trees near my home in the Seattle area. Palm trees are all kinds of cool. And one of the cool things they do is make coconuts. (Yes I know not ALL Palm trees make coconuts – but the trees at my condo complex do!)

Now believe it or not, there’s a guy here at the condo complex who’s job it is to drive around in what I call the Coconutmobile picking up the coconuts that fall to the ground every day. On some days, after a big wind or rain, there are lots of coconuts. In fact, it’s kind of overwhelming. There are hundreds of palm trees on our property and each of these produces lots of coconuts.

As I watched the man pick up the coconuts and put them into the Coconutmobile, it dawned on me – there is a lesson here for photographers who want to turn pro or who are already pros and who want to grow their businesses.

You see it would be very easy for the guy who picks up coconuts to say, “Wow – there’s just too many of them. I don’t know where to start.” He could give up, park the Coconutmobile in the Coconutmobile garage and go have a drink on the beach. That would be very easy.

Instead, the man just rolls up to the first tree, gets out, brings out his bag, and starts picking up coconuts. He doesn’t seem to fret about which tree to begin with. He doesn’t even seem to have a pattern. He just stops where he happens to be and gathers the coconuts that have fallen to the ground. He gets back in the Coconutmobile and drives to the next tree where he does it again and again and again. It usually takes him about four hours to pick all the coconuts off the ground. When he’s finished, he takes them somewhere, I am not sure where. But I know the next day he’ll be back to do it all again.

As a new photographer, perhaps you’ve looked at all the things you need to learn to master the craft of photography. There’s which camera and lens to buy, learning about exposure, composition, light, etc. It would be very easy to say “Wow – there’s just too much to learn. I don’t know where to start.” You could join the coconut guy for a drink. But if you take a lesson from him, you can accomplish your goals. Just pull up to the first thing you need to learn and learn it. Don’t worry about all the other stuff. Stick with that one thing – that tree if you will – and learn what you can before you move on to the next. You’re going to have to learn all of it eventually, so just go for it.

Move along from one thing to the next learning what you can. Don’t concentrate on what you DON’T know. That would be like the guy picking up coconuts spending his day counting how many he has left to pick up. It’s much more productive (and satisfying) to say “Wow – look how many I’ve gathered!”

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  1. [...] February 16, 2010 by Mark E. Johnson Okay, that wasn’t very funny … but it comes from this: Scott Bourne, who does a ton of teaching on photography (not always photojournalism) has a post up on where to start learning. [...]

  2. [...] A Lesson Learned From Coconuts While down here in sunny Florida I have been exposed to Palm trees. Very different than the trees near my home in the [...] [...]

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