The biggest detour is the detail. Paper clips and pencil sharpeners are the enemy of good writing; so too the enemy of good photography is the search for a better developer, lens, film, or, worst of all, opportunity.
Opportunity doesn’t knock, it hides right behind you.
Students teach their delays to their teachers. In teaching adult learners, while also teaching full time students, I noticed a significant differences. Those people who had to use the picture made better pictures earlier. The just followed the notes on the wall; used the chemicals provided; bought the student pack from the local store. At the end of a month they were making prints and talking about elements other than the ‘how do I’ of photography.
There were some who took to the process quickly, effortlessly absorbing details of the process, while also shooting. Shooting a lot. In fact, that was the secret of the successful student — they advanced themself — dedicated effort. They took the assignment: ‘a roll a day for a month’ in earnest, even extending it to the entire first year.
…. In the chemical age, in every age of commerce, we move among choices; are moved, actually, thinking we have choices, so there is the belief that we can be better, newer, improved with only another mixture. Rarely is that true.
These developers are my at hand mixture. LPD, Dektol, & D-76. I keep them mixed because they are useful, and are delivered as a powder. These days, LPD is also sold as a a liquid. I always suggest to the novitiate that they buy liquid, even though you are paying for water, you are getting freedom from air borne chemical dust. This is as close to magic as we get.
My key point is that those who pursue a better developer/film/camera/ .. anything such as that, lose sight of the image; what it is, where it is, and why. To cover the lack of understanding of the power of an image, or in being lost to understanding aesthetic growth, or “shock,” those folks cover their lack with a homily about being after the process or the print. They are only lost, and covering their tracks. They are only addicts, not artists.
The magic bullet isn’t something you will buy; it isn’t something outside you that is missing. You lack the magic.
Besides, silver bullets always go bad, and actually carry little impact.