Copyright Scott Bourne 2004 - All Rights Reserved

It’s not something you can buy at Adorama. It’s not something you can pick up on Ebay. It’s something you develop over time. It’s patience. There’s no doubt in my mind that after all these years, patience is the most important thing in my photographic arsenal. Without it, countless shots are missed. With it, miracles happen.

Like most things, photography, practiced at its highest levels, is hard. Patience is often the key difference between great, lasting, meaningful images and just good ones.

Throughout history, the arts are filled with examples of how patience may have helped to produce masterpieces. I’ll take one of my favorite examples.

The great composer Felix Mendelssohn was a pianist. But he’s possibly most famous for his last large orchestral work, written for the violin. Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 is arguably the most performed violin concertos of all time. It’s an arduous, beautiful, long piece that takes about an hour to perform.

Mendelssohn started working on the idea for his famous concerto back in 1838. He spent six years working on the piece. It wasn’t performed in public until 1845, seven years later. The work took so long for a variety of reasons, but among them the fact that Mendelssohn wasn’t a violinist. He needed help. He got it from Ferdinand David, a violinist, concertmaster and friend. They had to correspond about the work. It must have taken amazing patience from both men to work long distance, without the help of things we take for granted today such as email, chat, Skype, etc.

The patience that Mendelssohn showed was legendary. And now, more than 160 years later, here we are, still listening to his work. We’re still learning from it and talking about it. I can think of nothing more humbling and gratifying than to know that your work may outlive you.

This holiday season, as you’re making your gift wish list, be sure to add patience. There’s no place to buy it but who knows, maybe Santa will bring you some.

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