Monday, March 23, 2009

10,000 Hours

You might have heard about Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers: The Story of Success. In the book Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hour rule. Basically, if you want to master something, you have to work at it, a lot. In the book, Gladwell quotes neurologist Daniel Levitin.

“In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice-skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, this number comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is equivalent to roughly three hours a day, or 20 hours a week, of practice over 10 years… No one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.“

So, if you want to improve your photography, you have to shoot more. The more you shoot, the more ideas you will come up with and the better chance you'll have at creating a successful image. The image below was taken by photographer Brooke Williams and posted on Gladwell's web site.


  1. It's funny going back and reading this Matt,

    Just this weekend I was reading a book "Talent is over-rated" saying much the same thing.

    It's all in hard work and committed, focused training and development. There is no substitute for it...

    Classic example is Mozart who was playing and composing at a tender age on account of his father Leopold exposing him to music very early and pushing him in it, but what everyone forgets in calling him a young prodigy practically born a genius is that until he hit 22 and did his first major Piano sonata, all his earlier stuff is now considered pretty forgettable and is almost never performed anymore.

    In other words, well over 10,000 hours of time spent with music before he started to really find his mark and make his masterpeices. If Mozart took that long, the rest of us are out of excuses for not putting in the time beore expecting greatness or our voice.

    - Praveen

  2. well said, Praveen. You have to always be shooting. Our culture seems more geared for instant gratification. I agree, no excuses for not putting in time and working alot.