She looked directly into the camera, with a smirk on her face and the faintest hint of a singularly raised eyebrow, and she said "I’m the strongest model here, it’s my face on the wall this week. I had the best picture last week and right now, I know I’m the best, so yeah, I think it’ll go great at the photo shoot tomorrow."
She had done well last week. In a photo shoot which involved disguising every part of the body but the eyes, her eyes and expression came though with the utmost clarity and force. Out of all the other models in the competition, it was she who went into the camera lens, bringing herself into the small tube, communicating to the photographer and future observer with all her fierceness and beauty. She projected herself out like a laser and brought herself to into the material world of magazine ads and lipstick commercials. And at elimination, the judges praised her work and photo and told her she had a real talent…a natural talent. Those comments solidified her own ideas and hopes, that she was indeed already a great model. And all the other girls who had been in the same photo shoot looked at her with wonder and wanted to know how she had done it. They wanted to do it too.
When the next photo shoot was scheduled, she walked into the well lit studio with her head up high and a confident swagger in her hips. She knew she was the best, as had been proven last week, and this week, she was sure she would deliver as well, she had talent after all. Looking into the future, she knew she would win the entire competition and would soon begin modeling all over the world. She was the next star. When her turn came for the photo shoot, she did her thing. She looked into the camera and tilted her head and projected strength. She switched positions and used her legs and arms and played with some angles. But the model coach on set was not giving her any position feedback. After the first couple of frames, he said she didn’t look intense or strong and with these first biting comments, she began to sink. With each new pose, instead of hearing "beautiful…these look great," she heard silence and felt the exasperation coming from the coach and the photographer. Each click of the camera deflated her more until she couldn’t wait until it was all over. They tried to give her a couple of tips. "Turn the left arm more, lift your chin…" but nothing seemed to bring the magic. What was she missing? She had no idea. She was doing the same thing she did last week. Why wasn’t it having the same effect? "last frame!" called the coach, practically rolling his eyes as he said it. She knew he was mad. She hadn’t delivered and hadn’t impressed and she didn’t know why.
She wass young and had only really modeled in the mirror of her room when she found herself alone. But she came to the competition with the hopes of doing more than that. She wanted catwalks and Gucci and to work with the best photographers. She wanted gorgeous pictures and a new career. But she was young and inexperienced. She had never really practiced her moves and her "walk." Modeling was all new. They told her last week she had talent. Shouldn’t talent always be there? she wondered. If I had it last week, where had it gone this week? In effect, she had stumbled into one amazing photo. She had no idea what she had done right. How exactly had she held her head? What had she been thinking about when the camera clicked?
She could not retrace her steps, and thus, what they called talent was merely a chance encounter with the perfect light, expression, and timing.
Time and practice lead to true knowledge. Knowledge does not need the label of talent. It is beyond talent. Knowledge is knowing how to hold your head for the camera at just the right angle. Knowledge is knowing the shapes your body can contort into and still appear beautiful and interesting. This is not talent, it is not inherent. It is practiced and perfected. Day after day, it is examining what works and improving what doesn’t until you don’t need a mirror or another set of eyes or a coach. It is feeling it from within, knowing its every shape and subtlety. With deep knowledge, you can perform despite the weather or illness or stress. You know it. It is not a mysterious god given talent. It is direct and practical experience, crafted and made flawless over years of solid work.
If you show your work and someone says you have no talent, set the statement aside, shift your attention back to creation and keep on working. If you show your work and someone says you have talent, do exactly the same.