The Top Tips Blog

Getting Better Takes Time, Effort And Consistency

Next June should be awesome. I’ll be heading to Avignon in the south of France with two good friends, John and Grav. We’re going there to indulge in three of our favourite things. 

Those three things are cycling, football and wine and we’ve discovered that during a footy tournament you can do those three things in France really rather well.

The UEFA European Football Championships will be held between 14th June and the 14th July so sometime between those two dates we’ll be watching lots of games, cycling plenty of miles and sipping plenty of different appellations.


Leave Them All Behind

Every morning we’ll roll out from Avignon on two wheels having determined a route that takes in a few vineyards and ends at an establishment that serves food, wine and has a big telly. It should be a lot of fun.

There’s also a musical side theme we’re trying to expand. In 1986 The Cure filmed an amazing concert at the Roman amphitheatre in Orange so that’s on the list to visit.

In Savoy Truffle The Beatles reference Montelimar so we’ll have to go there as well. Don’t know if there’s anything in Montelimar other than nougat but hopefully when we research we’ll find out there’s something to actually see. 

And if there is then Grav will be taking photos of it.


Life Could Be Just Like A Photograph

Over the years we’ve been on a few trips together and Grav always takes about three cameras on the journey. To say he’s into photography would be an understatement. 

He’s happy to use his iPhone for the quick and standard shots of us horsing around. But he’s also always got some sort of creative project on the go and for those photos he brings along the quality equipment. 

It’s usually some sort of obscure camera that was produced for a short time between 1967 and 1973 by a now long defunct company based in Estonia. But for various (insert unintelligible specialist technical waffle reason) it produces a wonderful image. 

Every image he takes costs about fifty quid a pop because it’s printed on special paper made from pulped Norwegian Elk antlers and developed over three years in an Arctic cave.

The resulting images are always stunning though.


One Moment Captured

There’s an old story I half remember where a photographer is hosting an exhibition of his work. The walls are covered with amazing images and the guests wander around admiring the display.

One of the guests is a well known writer and he’s studying the photographs intently. He says to the photographer “These are brilliant photos. I guess you’ve got really good camera.”

Quick as a flash the photographer replies “Thank you. I’ve read some of your books and enjoyed them tremendously. I guess you must have a really good typewriter.”


Click, Click, Click, Click, Click

Grav’s got a really good camera. A few of them. But of course that’s not why the images are good. They’re decent pictures because Grav’s a really good photographer.

The reason he’s a really good photographer is because he’s put in the hard yards. You get good at stuff by doing it repeatedly. Again and again and again.

Grav’s been uploading images onto his Flickr page for years. He used to do it on a daily basis at one time in order to force himself to shoot every day and cultivate the desired habit. 

But he doesn’t just take a lot of pictures. He takes them with intention. There’s thought and consideration behind every image.

That continuous focus and dedication has an impact. It fine hones talent and generates expertise.

If you do something again and again with intention then it becomes easier. It becomes easy to do it well. In fact you don’t do it until you can do it really well. You do it until you can only do it well. You do it until you can’t do it badly.


Can I Kick It?

I started watching the Beckham documentary on Netflix last night. Like anyone at the top of his game his dedication to learning his craft was on another level.

Delivering a perfectly paced and flighted cross was the most natural thing in the world to him. But only after years and years of intentional practice.

So this week’s top tip is to turn up. It often is isn’t it?!

Choose what you want to do and think about how well you want to be able to do it. And then turn up.

If you want to be really really good at it then you need to put in the time and the effort. You need to put in the hours and the intentionality.

Not all of Grav’s photos are brilliant but because of the expertise he’s gained from repeatedly turning up over the years many of them are.

It doesn’t always need to be a top top performance. You’re allowed to be average a lot of the time. That’s the idea of my sign off each week, the exhortation to ‘have an average week’.

Lots of average weeks will turn into something quite exceptional. The expertise will come. 

Have an average week. Always.

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