Having the Patience to Improve

In June, Christina wrote a post about our trip to Blogher Food and some of the things she learned while we were there. She gave this great quote from Molly Wizenberg,

“All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

I had a great experience with this last week. A friend of mine needed some food shots for a photography class that she’s teaching (p.s. if you’re interested in taking an online photography class, Candice’s classes are the best… ever … period!), and she asked me to help her with some food. In exchange for the food I got to watch her work, and she’s giving me some of the shots to use here. Wait until you see these pictures… she makes my food look like it belongs in a magazine!

Anyway, back to watching Candice work. Candice is a professional photographer. She used to be an editor at Creating Keepsakes, she has taught classes for Canon, not to mention her  amazing skills behind the camera (like here and here). I have taken all of Candice’s classes, plus a few from other teachers, and I usually measure the quality of the images by whether I can get them posted in Tastespotting (not the best measure, but it works for me!). When I’m taking food pictures, I don’t always have a lot of time, and I don’t necessarily put as much thought into it as I should.

I had always assumed when Candice took pictures, that her innate creative talent let her take a few shots very quickly and then she  was done. She was magic, and her pictures were just perfect! When she came over the other day to take pictures, I learned that one of the reasons she’s so good, is because she works really hard. I think that I had 6 dishes prepared, and I’m pretty sure she was here for almost three hours.  She was setting up props, changing camera angles, and moving things around.

I’m not trying to say that if I start preparing better that my pictures will be as good as Candice’s, but I was sort of giving myself a pass, and I think that I need to be making a better effort.

Am I the only one who maybe doesn’t try their hardest at something, because if I fail giving a half effort than I haven’t really tried and haven’t really failed; but if I fail after trying my hardest, then I’ve really sort of  put myself out there? Does that make sense?

So, I think I need to come up with a new goal of not only bringing you guys great recipes, but also trying my best to make the recipes look good so that you’ll really want to make them!

I know today is a bit off topic, but I’ll be back tomorrow with a recipe, and on Friday I’m having a fun little party that I’ll write about next week. Good things are happening!!

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  1. I totally understand what you are saying. Cooking is one of those things that I do half-hearted because I’m afraid if I try my hardest, my cooking will still be totally lame. I feel like I’m almost always apologizing for my food. I think it takes courage to try your hardest at something and to let people see your best efforts. I’ve seen your food in person – and it is gorgeous! Taking good pictures does take a good bit of time with the camera and then later in editing. You have five kids and finding time for that is probably nearly impossible. At any rate, I think you’ve had some fantastic pictures and that the trend has been that they’re getting better and better. Can’t wait to hear about the party!

  2. Love your pictures,can’t wait to see Candice’s .I totally understand what you are saying. If we give ourselves excuses for what we are doing we have never quite given our all and so always know we can do better . More life lessons in the kitchen. Love you.