BPP 158: How a Rubix Cube made Me a Better Photographer

In todays episode of the Beginner Photography Podcast I share how a rubix cube made me a better photographer and how you can take the lessons I learned and apply them to your own photography journey!

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Here are some of my bad photos that I thought just because I was shooting in manual, they had to be great. As you can see, they were far from great!


My biggest problem here was that I was not getting any feedback. I was not opening the door to the possibility that others could share their thoughts that would help me grow.

Here is me solving a rubix cube.

Did you enjoy this episode? Check out more recent interviews with other great guests!

Full Episode Transcription:

Disclaimer: The transcript was transcribed electronically and may contain errors that do not reflect accurately what the speaker said. Because of this, please do not quote this automated transcript.

Raymond: 00:00 Hey Raymond here from the beginner of photography podcast. And today I'm going to share how a Rubik's cube helped make me a better photographer, the lessons that I learned and how you can become a better photographer too. So let's get into it.

Intro: 00:16 Welcome to the beginner photography podcast with Raymond Hatfields, the podcast dedicated to helping you grow your photography skills. Raman interviews the world's top photographers in their field to ask questions that will get you taking better photos today. Now with you as always, husband, father, home brewer, La Dodger Fan and Indianapolis wedding photographer, Raymond Hatfield. Welcome

Raymond: 00:46 back to today's episode of the beginning photography podcast. As always, I am Raymond Hatfield and I am an Indianapolis wedding photographer and a your guide for this journey that I'm going to take you along today. Uh, I'm really happy that you are here and I hope that you can learn something from today's episode. And if you do, I would be so appreciative if you would share this episode with, uh, with somebody who, you know, who could use a listen. So last a few weeks, a few weeks ago, uh, my mom, uh, came out here to Indiana to go with us on a family vacation, uh, down to holiday world, Indiana. Uh, I know it's, uh, Santa Claus, Indiana, which is the home of holiday world. Now. Holiday world is like this themed, uh, it's like a holiday themed amusement park and like, uh, um, like water parks. So it's a lot of fun for the kids.

Raymond: 01:47 We, we love to go. Um, and it's a wonderful time. And my mom and I spent a lot of time talking, just kind of sharing a stories about the past and, uh, w we would, we would, what my mom liked to do was compare, uh, our son Charlie, who is six years old to me at his age. So that of course got us talking about, uh, just me as a child and the things that I did, and I was sharing what was frustrating as a parent and she was, you know, commiserating and saying, I was there too, and you were the exact same way. And, uh, you know, just, just kid things. And, and the more that we got to talk about it, um, I was thinking a lot about my own childhood and how I perceived things. Um, and, and I realized, you know, sometimes when you take a look back you think about how much things have changed, how much things have grown.

Raymond: 02:45 Um, and in this case I was thinking about, uh, how I learned as a kid and I thought this was really interesting as a kid. I was the, I was the kid who was, you know, interested in absolutely everything. And I mean, I was interested in everything to a fault. Like it would get me in trouble. I was interested in so many things and I think I was interested in

everything because what I really wanted was to find the one thing that I was just naturally good at. And as I started thinking about this and, uh, really diving in deeper, I remembered, uh, when I was, I dunno, maybe six or no, I guess I was a little bit older, but I was younger than 10 for sure. I was, I was a young child still in elementary school for sure. Probably first or second grade.

Raymond: 03:42 And I remember, um, my parents were watching 60 minutes and they were highlighting on 60 minutes a young piano prodigy. This kid was, and he, he was probably four or something. He was very, very young. He was younger than I was. And, uh, the parents of this kid had no idea that he was good at piano. They didn't like put them in piano lessons or anything. They were just at a friend's house and the friends had a piano. So the kid sat down and they realized that he could, you know, pick things up just by, just by hearing it and he could, um, mimic, mimic it, uh, back on the piano almost immediately. This kid had a real ear for it. And again, he was really, really, really young, probably four, but they kept calling this kid, you know, natural. I kept saying, oh, he's such a natural, this is amazing.

Raymond: 04:36 He's natural. He's naturally great at piano. And it almost seemed as though they were playing down how extraordinary it was that I, four year old was playing pieces on the piano that season. Pros struggled with. And looking back, maybe they didn't, maybe they weren't playing that down, but as a kid, all that I picked up on was that how this kid was a natural, he was naturally good at playing the piano. He found what he was naturally good at and it was completely by accident. So I think that is where my hunt started and kind of where this, where this episode is going. Uh, I thought to myself, if this kid just naturally found something that he was good at, there has to be something that I am naturally good at. So if I look for more things, if I do more things, I'll eventually find it.

Raymond: 05:36 Right. So, I mean, I remember very quickly getting into a lot of things. Uh, I remember I had a magicians kit. Uh, imagine me as a magician. Jake's, um, pastels. I mean more than just like, you know, pen or pencil and paper. Like I went straight to pastels. Uh, I took ceramics lessons. Uh, I was into rollerblading, like BMX bikes, adject tennis lessons. Uh, I had a compass and a camelback for hiking. You know, there's 10 year old kid who's just going to go off and hike on his own. And then also I had, uh, a Rubik's cube. I mean, I was just all over the board with things that I was quote unquote interested in. Uh, and really I wasn't interested in any of them. I think I just really wanted to find the thing that I was good at. But the problem came when I gave something a try.

Raymond: 06:36 And I'm sure as you have experienced in your own life, I was not world-class the first time I tried anything. You know, and looking back as an adult, it's easy to see why this, why this young child was, was being, uh, featured so young as a piano player. It wasn't because he was naturally good at something. It was because it was extraordinary that he was naturally good at this. But regardless, that caused me a lot of frustration. It caused me to be really frustrated and side. And then I would give up immediately on everything if I wasn't great, I thought, nope, this isn't it. Onto the next thing, man. Now that I think about it, I had a, I had a hacky sack as well. Again, I was probably like eight, maybe 10. I tried for a long time to, to, to be real good at that.

Raymond: 07:35 Just cause you know, all the kids at school were, we're really good anyway. Uh, but the one thing that that really stood out to me was, was that Rubik's cube, because when it came to pastels, when it came to, um, you know, a magicians kit, when it came to ceramics, you figured out pretty quick, you know, that you weren't world-class. You figured out pretty, I mean right away that, that this is something that you're not naturally good at. Right. But the Rubik's cube was what always intrigued me the most because, um, you, you felt like you never knew how close you might be. Like it was just one more twist or one more turn and then things would just come together. And I mean, I tried to solve that thing for weeks.

I tried to solve that cube for weeks. And I'm not sure if you've ever tried to solve a Rubik's cube, but at times it feels impossible.

Raymond: 08:34 It feels like you are just wasting your time. Like this is just an impossible task. It doesn't make any sense. And I would twist and turn and rotate that cube four hours and somehow no progress ever got done. I never got any closer to solving it, no matter how many times I twisted it, turned it and rotate it. So I just, I just ended up throwing it in the drawer because you know, it was, it was pointless to me. I wasn't naturally good at it. And then in that drawer is where it sat for six or seven years, you know, except for several or a few, you know, days at a time where I would give it another try before realizing, oh, pointless. You know, maybe a friend would come over and they'd be looking through my stuff and they would find the cube and, and we joke around and we'd play with it for a little, but ultimately it would always end up back in that drawer for six or seven years.

Raymond: 09:32 That was, it's home. So then fast forward six or seven years, it, it had come time for me to move to La to attend film school. And as I was packing up the things in my room, I got to the Rubik's cube. At first I hesitated, but ultimately I, I decided to bring it with me and I remember, um, one night, uh, it was probably eight months or so later, um, I was way, I was in way over my head at school. I was in the middle of this huge project that I was not prepared for. I was getting less than four hours of sleep at night. You know, it was, it was a rough time for me in school. I think one night I just felt kind of, you know, done like I needed, I needed a break and I was sitting there in my room and of the cube.

Raymond: 10:36 It always stayed on my desk. It always stayed on my desk. Well, you know, I didn't mean that I would always play with it, but I'd always stayed down at my desk. So as I'm sitting there in my chair, just wallowing in self pity essentially. Um, I saw the cube and I just picked it up and I started just mindlessly spinning it. And at this point you may be thinking how in the world business relate to photography, but if you're still listening and you haven't, you know, tuned out, stick with me. I'm getting there. So as I was sitting there and just mindlessly spinning this Rubik's cube, my roommate Ben had walked by my room and, and he, he peered in and we were talking for a few minutes and he saw me messing around with the cube and right then and there he, I remember, I remember this so well, he bet me $10 that I wouldn't be able to solve it by the same time the next day. Now what I should have done was just laugh it off and go to sleep.

Raymond: 11:38 But what I did instead was take him up on his offer. Now you may be thinking right now you may be asking, why would you do that Raymond? Why did I think after seven years of to figure it out with, I mean no luck that I would be able to do so in the next 24 hours. And to be completely honest, it beats me. I have no idea why. But regardless, I got to work and to everyone's surprise, including me, 24 hours I handed and my roommate a complete solved Rubik's cube. So how did I do it? I didn't take it apart and reassemble it in the right order. I didn't take off the stickers. I legit solved it. I did it the right way. Just do twists and turns. And the way that I did it was simple. It was so simple. Are you ready?

Raymond: 12:41 I googled how to solve a Rubik's cube. That was it. That was all that I did. Now, you may not know this if you've never solved the Rubik's cube, but you can solve any cube, no matter how many you know, jumbled twists and turns. It has in just four simple steps, four simple steps. You don't need to have a phd in math to solve a Rubik's cube. And I thought, in fact, fun, fun little tip, the instructions are included in every Rubik's cube that you buy. So if you wanna learn how to solve a Rubik's cube, you can just go to the store by Rubik's cube and the instructions are inside. But I thought why? Why had I never even looked it up? Why had I never even decided to take the first logical step, which was figuring out how this thing worked? It was because I assumed that you needed to have a natural rain man type talent to solve a the cube.

Raymond: 13:45 So I never looked any further and that's how it had been my entire life. Like I said, if I would try something and it wasn't the right thing right away, if it didn't naturally click with me, I would just simply move on to the next thing and right then, right then when I solved the cube, I realized I had made two huge mistakes that really hindered growth. That really hindered my growth to learn new things my entire life. Now this is where photography comes in. All right, so mistake number one was assuming, assuming simply having the assumption that others are just naturally good at things and if I'm not good at something right away after the first try, then just to stop looking altogether. Just stop. Don't go any further. If you're not naturally good at it, don't waste your, you have to be naturally good at something.

Raymond: 14:53 So go out and find that thing. Don't try to get better by practice. Just stop. That was mistake number one and mistake number two was just trying to figure it all out myself. I mean clearly the seven years of trying on my own and not completing the cube, well, it didn't work. It didn't work. It irrefutable, it did not work, but it took me reaching out to those who had completed a cube before to help. In the moment that I did that, I learned how to solve a cube within 24 hours consistently. Like this wasn't like a onetime thing. Like, Hey, I solved it. Please don't ask me to do it again. Like I'm not doing double or nothing. I mean still to this day, 11 years later, I can solve a cube, no problem in under two minutes. I promise you. It's awesome. It's fun.

Raymond: 15:58 So those were the two lessons I learned, right? Assuming and then trying to figure it out on my own. And I've found this to be the case, um, for everything. If you, if you reach out and you get that help, you will be able to figure out things so much faster than you would if you just went out on your own. And again, I found this to be the case for everything from building a fence, uh, losing weight and especially in photography. And I, you know, I don't want to say that I know how you feel cause I don't, I'm not you, but I can say that I am an introvert. I hate to inconvenience people. It is one of my, it scares me to death, to inconvenient inconvenience people. I hate to ask people for things. I hate to, uh, put people in a position, um, where they have to go out of their way and help me.

Raymond: 17:02 I like being able to solve things on my own. I like that idea of being able to bootstrap and you know, just do it, put in the work and you will be able to do it. But the truth is so many things in life just simply don't work that way. I think personally that includes photography. So I have always been the lone wolf and I just simply tried to do everything myself, but I learned in that 24 hours that that is just simply not possible if you want to do anything. Great. So from then on I felt right away as if nothing was impossible as long as you know how the tool works, all I had to do was figure out how does a cube work and then once I figured that out I could solve it. This is also how photography works. Some days when I would rather just stay in the comfort of my own home, I think of, I figured the line from a go your own way by Fleetwood Mac, which is one of the best songs of all time and the line is open up.

Raymond: 18:30 Everything's waiting for you. It takes courage to open up, but once you do, everything is waiting for you to take. If you open up, every opportunity is waiting for you. Everything is waiting for you. So believe it or not, you know, no one is born with a natural talent to take incredible photos. That four year old kid who played piano, look, he's an anomaly. Obviously. That's why he was being, you know, featured. But nobody's born with a natural talent to take incredible photos because it requires the use of a tool. But most people believe that they have to either get lucky or spend years of trying different things. In order to be good at something, you have to know how the tool works to make something with it. And that is vital to reaching your goal. Now, luckily, if you're listening, you can tackle mistake number one by yourself assumption.

Raymond: 19:42 It just takes time. But yeah, you know you can, you can do that all on your own. Just stop assuming. Stop assuming. And you tackled number one, you're halfway there. But mistake number two needs outside help. There's, there's, there's simply no way around it and that's why I've spent so much time to incorporate community. Even in my newest course audit to amazing learning will only take you halfway because you will inevitably have questions at some point and that's where a Facebook group comes in. Having the ability to share photos, to get feedback, to ask for help whenever you need it in a safe environment is one of the most powerful tools to growing as a photographer. I mean for years I was taking photos in manual mind you thinking that I was just creating works of art because I was telling my camera what to do, but the truth be told, those photos are they're not good.

Raymond: 20:46 They're not, they're not art. They were borderline trash and if you want to see an example, I posted them in the show notes. If you're listening in apple podcast, a swipe up, you should be able to see the photos. They're not, not that great. Not that great. But once I joined an online community, once I started sharing my photos, once I started to get feedback from others, that is what really took me, that that is what it took for me to really feel like I understood photography. And that's everything. That is everything. And for that reason, and for that reason alone, my course audit to amazing has been kind of built around the Facebook group setting. Now you can learn more about other two amazing by simply heading over to learn dot beginner photography, podcast.com and to make the whole thing more fun. Everyone who enrolls in the course by July 31st will be entered into a raffle where I'm giving away $1,365 worth of photography prizes, prizes like a cannon nifty 50 backup hard drive memory cards of one year pro plan to cloud spot online, uh, uh, online galleries, which is more than a $400 value alone.

Raymond: 22:08 And I'm also giving away copies of Mark Silber's new book, create tools for seriously talented people to unleash your creative life and many more prizes. There are 25 prizes, uh, in all and everybody who enrolls in the course will be entered to win. And now enrollment, uh, in auto two amazing closes in just a few days. If you're listening to this, the day that it goes out, enrollment closes July 31st. So if you want to enroll, just head over to learn that beginning photography podcast.com and you will see auto two amazing right there. So whether you're like Gwyn or listener who finds most benefit from going to in-person photography meetups, or maybe you're more like me and like the comfort of online groups, whatever is right for you, you need some way to, you need, you need to find some way to share your work in a way that allows for feedback. Don't go asking for feedback right away, but you need to find a safe place where you can accept feedback. Now you can go to meetup.com which is not a dating site, I promise. And you can probably find 30 photography meetup groups within your community. So if you need one last shot of encouragement to join an online community and get that help, get that feedback and grow as photographers together. Here you go.

Raymond: 23:43 You know what will happen if you go, you know what will happen if you don't join a community, nothing. Nothing will happen. You will stay exactly the same, but you don't know what will happen if you do go. If you do join that community, if you do reach out to that photographer, I mean, you could meet your next best friend. You could be opened up to a new form of photography. You could meet somebody who will let you tag along with them, uh, to a shoot. You know what will happen if you don't go, but you don't know what will happen if you do go be open. Everything's waiting for you. See what I did there? I tied back in that Fleetwood Mac reference. Yeah. Okay. Anyway, that is it for this week. I hope that this episode helped change your mindset in some way. I hope that if you were stuck feeling as if photography was hard, as if it was complicated, as if you weren't naturally good at it. So why do we even continue to try? I hope that I changed your mind. I hope that I showed you that

there is another way and that if you continue to push, you will make it because this takes practice.

Raymond: 25:13 So that is it for this week. If you want to see a video of me solving Rubik's Cube, head over to the show notes and a, there's a video right there, uh, that you can check out. So that is it for this week. Until next week, I want you to get out. I want you to keep shooting. I want you to focus on yourself and I want you to be safe. All right, that's it. I love you all.

Outtro: 25:37 If you enjoy today's podcast, please leave us a review in iTunes or your favorite podcast player and continue the conversation with Raymond and other listeners of the podcast by joining the beginner photography podcast Facebook group today. Thank you. We'll see you again next week.