The Best Photo Yet

In the seven years or so that I've been shooting and studying photography, I've noticed a recurring cycle of thought that happens with every endeavor. It goes something like this. 

Go out to make some images, get very excited about what I'm capturing. The creative mojo is a-flowin.

Head home and begin the import process. Feel the excitement wane as I see how the images come up on the Mac vs how they looked on the camera display. 

Begin culling. Ok, there's some workable stuff here.

Stop in my tracks when I see that ONE image which really stands out and think, "Wow that's my best photo yet! I'm awesome at this."

Begin post-production. Excitement back up. Mojo flowing again.

Bask in the satisfaction of a final image and the certainty I've done some good work. I'm improving, growing. Mission accomplished.

But then... a few days or weeks go by. Or maybe it's been months. Maybe I look back on that work and suddenly all excitement has abandoned me. My work is loathsome. It sucks. I look at it with disdain. I don't want to share it. How could I have thought this garbage was any good? What was I thinking? I have no business calling myself a photographer.

This self-deprecation goes on and on. Until the next shoot. Or maybe several shoots go by and I've captured nada. It's rough, but there's always a silver lining...

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To Be a Great Photographer

I see this topic come up a lot on blogs and Youtube channels. There's always someone pushing out a 'top ten' list or a collection of "how-to' tips on being a better photographer or taking great images. These are fun, easy ways to get ideas or provide reminders of basic photographic concepts, but this type of content offers little to no value. It won't give you an edge or take you to the "next level". Usually, it's just good click bait. Lists and tips dangle the idea that you can improve just by consuming the content. Unfortunately most people stop there. I'll admit I've been guilty of this many times too.

The truth is, if you want to be a great photographer, the solution is NOT to watch more videos or read more blogs. It's not to take another class or attend another conference either. Education is important, but information without action is useless. So here's the unpopular, inconvenient, no-BS truth. To be a great photographer, there is only ONE process you need to follow and it's this...

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Darkness and Light

Sometimes the smallest tips can open doors to the most interesting things. The other day I found one such tip from Austin Kleon on using filtered Twitter searches to discover new-to-you bits of culture. Being a curious person by nature, I'm constantly Googling random things as I traverse the web, but searching Twitter had never crossed my mind.

It's a clever idea and it just so happens I'm on a Richard Avedon kick, so I gave it a try. Not surprisingly a decent list of tweets popped up, several of which linked to a documentary about him called Darkness and Light...

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Well here we are already a week into the new year. I'm a little late getting this post up, but better late than never as they say! I've never been one for New Year's resolutions, nor am I in the habit of writing down or reviewing goals. Instead what I like to do is pick a word each year to focus on and try to integrate into my life. This year the word is determination. We'll see how that goes. ;) 

I also decided to write a letter to myself. Or rather, to all the counterparts of me. Something to refer back to every couple months that will remind me to be grateful for what I have, to go easy on myself when my first reaction is criticism, and to keep calm and carry on.

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