The Expert in Anything Was Once a Beginner

If you have the desire to be creative, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t start now.

In today’s world, there’s good content all around us. With Instagram and other platforms allowing anyone and everyone to share their work for others to see, the internet is so saturated with content, that it may seem daunting to pick up a camera and begin shooting. However, if you have a desire to be creative and start making video or photo work, there shouldn’t be any reason why you shouldn’t.

I started shooting photography and video before the big boom of content creation on social media and other channels. I remember being in high school and seeing the University of Georgia football videos made by Frank Martin. My mind was blown. I had never seen anything like it before. I think before he showed up on the scene there weren’t many people creating stories and cinematic experiences with video in the sports industry. In my opinion it was revolutionary.

Seek direction from those who are in the position you want to be.

Fast forward to a year later, I was on a tour of UGA’s campus. My tour guide was Frank Martin. I asked him about his job with the UGA football team and how he got to where he was. We swapped contact information, and I sent him an email the next day. Frank gave me advice and pointers on a few of the videos I had sent him to watch. It was a huge deal to me and it gave me the confidence (and some new knowledges) to continue getting better. I don’t know if I would be a filmmaker today if it weren’t for the feedback and direction that Frank gave me. Because of his direction, I ended up landing my first job in creative media for the University of Georgia Athletics where I gained so much knowledge and experience behind the camera.

There are people willing to point you in the right direction.

I think that if you have a desire to learn and be creative, there is nothing stopping you. There are people out there who are willing to share with you their stories and give you guidance to point you in the right direction. There are very few people who are self-taught at anything. Self-taught musicians, athletes, creatives, etc. are rare. You may have natural talent or a natural eye for making something beautiful, but at the end of the day, it takes seeking wisdom and direction from others who were in the exact same position as you at one point in their life.

Surround yourself with people who are better than you, ask questions, and practice daily.

“The expert in anything was once a beginner” is something I have to remind myself often. Jimmy Chin didn’t wake up one day and just create Free Solo. No, he was a beginner also, but he put himself into a position to grow — spending time with people who were better than him at his craft, asking the right questions, and practicing daily.

Don’t let your dreams be shot down by comparison. 

I like to compare my creative journey to my journey learning to rock climb. I always had a desire to climb because my older brother spent weekends climbing and I wanted to be a part of it. I was never on the same level as him as a beginner, but I took the step to learn from him. I started climbing with him, learning the ropes, and fast forward three years later, I climb 3-4 days a week at a fairly decent level. And like I said, it’s taken me three years to climb something even slightly noteworthy, and even still, every time I walk into that climbing gym, 90% of the people in there are better than me. It can be frustrating, but learning and surrounding myself with those people who are better and stronger than me only makes me want to get better and stronger.

Climbing-At-Sand-Rock

Don’t let your dreams of being a creative, or really anything, be shot down by comparison and thinking you’re not good enough. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Just remember that everyone was once a beginner, and there are people out there who want to share their knowledge with you. Reach out to those you look up to, ask honest questions, and lean into your craft even when you’re not initially pleased with the work you’re creating.

Jackson Smith

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