Unconscious Competence

Posted June 30th, 2009 by   |  Photography, Uncategorized  |  Permalink

Last week, I was down in Texas running photography workshops and I was talking about the importance of practicing your photography skills. I strongly encouraged folks in the class to get out and take photographs every day until their camera becomes a natural extension of their mind.

All too often, photographers go weeks and months between taking photographs, only to find that when it is time to trip the shutter for real, they are rusty. They aren’t sure if the camera is set up correctly or if the autofocus is in the right mode. Their photographs lack inspiration and become record shots of the event, rather than inspired images.

During the workshop, a participant named Brian Stark suggested that his goal was to become Unconsciously Competent with his camera. In other words, he wanted to become so comfortable with the camera settings, menus, and buttons, that he could operate it without thinking.


That’s what I am talking about. Unconscious competence is the only way to really become a skilled photographer. A great photographer is able to do the following:

1. Look at a scene
2. Visualize an image
3. Configure the camera
4. Take the photo
5. Have the resulting photo match your vision

A master photographer is able to do this all unconsciously. My goal is Unconscious Competence and I’m still working on achieving it. I force myself to take photographs every day in order to keep mentally sharp and creatively fit!

If you’d like to do some more reading on Unconscious Competence, then follow this Wikipedia Link.

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