Practice Makes Better!

I have a saying in my band room. "Practice Works!" Most people know the saying "Practice Make Perfect" and don't really understand how practice works. The better way to think of that saying is "Perfect Practice Makes Perfect." This past month we got a new puppy. If you are following me on Instagram (or the puppy) at all, you would have seen sooo many photos of Indigo, our new member of the family. She is an adorable Australian Shepherd and German Short Hair mix. It's been over 15 years since we have trained a puppy, but we are getting there! She is an excellent puppy (sometimes) and she is a raging toddler (sometimes) and we all have bite marks galore! But she is young and just doesn't understand everything just yet! We are definitely out of practice when it comes to training a puppy, but during a pandemic, we figured we'd have time.

Don't you wish we all treated each other like a new puppy? Loved on just because we are naive? Helped daily just because we need it? Taken care of when we just can't do what we need to do? Picked up and placed in the place we need to be to succeed? Told "No!" when we are wrong? (Maybe we don't like that one, but it does help us.) Is it just because she is an adorable or do we really want to help her? It is probably a little of both, but an untrained puppy would be a nightmare. So we teach her daily, even constantly.

I don't need to practice!

So when we go Indigo about a month ago we were all fairly excited, but I was thrilled with the idea of taking photos of a very cute puppy. Who doesn't like photos of a puppy?!! I'll just take a photo a day and post them. It will be good for me as a photographer and I can document her growing up. What could go wrong?

Indigo's Instagram

I'm actually not very good at taking photos of a puppy, but...

Well, I found out that photographing a puppy is hard work! She is fast (blurry photos!) She sleeps a lot (same photo!) She really likes the camera and runs right towards the lens! (out of focus again!) When she runs it is really hard to keep her in focus! Why can't I do this? I'm a good photographer and this should be easy! No posing, no helping a client to relax!! I realized about 2 days in that I really need to learn some things and make it work. In my true obsessive fashion I found the information I needed and started to practice. Now some people think practice is spending time doing something and in some cases that works. But in reality the only way to get better at something is to practice with intention. Know what you're having trouble with and practice it until you totally understand it and practice more until you can't get it wrong. Thankfully a puppy doesn't care how many photos you take, so this was going to work for me and Indigo. When I practice my instruments I approach them the same way. Learn, understand, practice, repeat. Repetition is only part of the process, but it is necessary!

"I generally have to work hard for most things, but understanding how to practice isn't one of them."

Hopefully you're thinking, "These photos are great! What is he talking about?" But what you don't see are the hundreds of photos that didn't look good at all. Blurry, dark, completely useless photos. Again exactly like music. Hopefully you don't listen to me practice and think poorly of me. I sound awful when I practice because I am working on things that are difficult for me. If I practiced the things I can do already I really wouldn't get better. I generally have to work hard for most things, but understanding how to practice isn't one of them. Practice Works!!

So as senior season is approaching, what did I learn that can benefit my clients? Know what I'm doing first, practice my techniques so that I'm ready to make magic happen, and bring treats!