One of the more popular photo news sites is currently running a post discussing the process of "mastering photography". While the process being set out is understandable, the premise that serves as the building block for the post is extremely faulty. It is not altogether clear that photography is an activity that can be mastered in the sense that someone can become a master plumber, auto technician or accountant. Other professions have standards setting organizations to establish mastery but photography does not. Perhaps this is because photography is a medium of personal expression.
Make no mistake here, a photographer can certainly learn and apply sets of traditional skills - camera adjustment and control, lighting adjustment and control, etc. They can also learn image post processing skills. These can all be taken to the point of "mastery" but all of those are simply mechanics in the process. And truthfully, more of those "skills" or mechanics are increasingly coming under automatic or computational control. So given both the current state of technology, the direction in which that technology appears headed and that this technology is available to anyone at any price, the "mastery" of photography is certainly becoming less about those traditional skills.
But the thrust of the piece seems to be the length of time it will take to "master" photography. This makes the premise of the piece even more questionable as each subject's story is markedly different and needs to be treated as such. These differences require the photographer to use different approaches for effective subject storytelling. And this is an ongoing effort that moves from subject to subject.
In reality then, storytelling - telling the subject's story - is the "mastery' that is important and should be addressed.