2013. It’s a new year already. The days are getting longer, so I’m told. I’m another year older, slower, fatter and balder. But a new year can also mean a great time to focus on our work. Draw it into focus by outlining and giving voice to where we might like for it to go. Without that articulation, it’s easy to wander in circles, and not really move forward with our art.
I’m reminded of a great line by my friend Craig Tanner, when he was asked what is the most important concern to him, as an artist; his answer, so simple, was “the only thing that matters is, is my work moving forward”.
What can we do to move our work forward? Well, make some goals to move toward, for one thing. And really, goals is the wrong word, I think, for art. We don’t score goals. We don’t target anything; we make art, we create stuff. That’s all.
But how to figure out what we might want to create. An outline, is a better word, for me. Because it takes away a little of the judgement or pressure inherit in the word “goal”. I don’t have a “goal” with my art. I don’t want to feel like I “failed” or “missed”, and I don’t see it as a“score” if I actually do what I set out to. I just want to make photos, or music, or write stuff that I haven’t before. That’s all. I don’t need to “achieve” anything or perform any kind of “personal best”, etc. I just want to see the work I do continue to move forward.
I bought myself a day planner, and the first thing I realized was, I didn’t really have a plan to put in it. So I began outlining a plan; simple, sometimes obtuse, ideas, as well as some more specific and tightly defined ideas. A few of those, for 2013, include
- shoot more (very loose and obtuse)
- shoot more macro and closeup images
- focus-tune all my lenses
- write down EVERY idea that comes to me for a specific photo
- follow through on my efforts to turn those ideas into photos
- be more disciplined about completely checking dof before I shoot, either with Live view and/or after shot review.
- sell some gear
- buy more gear
- write more
- learn how to use Tony Kuyper’s Photoshop Masks
- undertake to keyword all of my unedited files
- delete all those “hhmmm, nice, but not quite” photos on that 1Tb drive (NB, do this one BEFORE item # 11)
- be better about backing up my working hard drives every time I edit files on them
- That means EVERY time I edit files on them
- specifically, for my Wrangell-St. Elias Park book project, some of the things I want are
- photos of salmon
- photos of the Copper River at breakup/freezeup
- a black bear photo
- photos of Chisana
- photos of the bottom of a glacier
- an aerial photo of the Wrangell-St. Elias coastline
Those are just a few of the things that leap out of my plan for 2013. Not everything, of course, as my fear of failure is bad enough; my fear of failure and having other folks KNOW about it is even more scary.
But it’s a worthwhile endeavor, I think, to set out on a trip with certain things in mind. Simultaneously, we should be open to experiencing what comes along our way, unforeseen and unexpected, so I’l be sure to leave my plan with room for context and spontaneity.
We’ll see how I do. Prioritizing things in a list is a good idea, as well. If I don’t get a good black bear photo from Wrangell-St. Elias, it won’t bother me too much. If I don’t write more, or improve my file management plan with backups, it’ll bother me.
Those of us who sell our work, or aim/hope/try/dream to, should do the same thing, with more tightly defined lists and outlines, for the business end of our photography. And that could be a good topic for my next blog.