5 Big Photography Lessons from 2014

BTL#18 (1 image) Santa Fe Mountain, Trees II 200dpi6.4%22q9 LR2014 is a curious year for me to write a photographic end-of-year wrap-up piece as I shot less this year than almost any other. But everyday life gets in the way of all of us — even photographers — so I thought my lessons learned might still carry some value. Here are my top five:

• Set Big Photographic Goals & Make Them Happen: Fifteen years ago I set a goal of traveling to one of my dream photographic locations each year. But in order to truly make that happen, I’ve found that you must plan well in advance or a year will slip by without your notice. So now I’ve made it a top priority. I created a visual list of locations that inspired me. Pinterest is a great tool for this so get on board if you aren’t already.  And I realize I have to choose my location at least a year in advance and begin collecting data on weather and light as the basis for my trip timing. Otherwise, the trip won’t happen.

This year, although weak on photography in general, did include a trip to one of my big “must see” locations: Antarctica. 

• Plan Trips As A Photographer Not A Tourist: For every trip, especially the big ones which are most likely once-in-a-lifetime events, I’ve learned that I must prepare as a photographer rather than as a tourist. Know the weather! Know the light!

Unfortunately, on my Antarctica trip I cut the weather too close, arriving in Ushwaia on February 21st, which I knew was pushing it since Antarctica’s rough winter can, and did this year, begin early. Enthralled by the blue ice I discovered in Alaska two years ago, I fantasized shooting much more of it in the Antarctic. Too much of the trip, however, was ‘socked in’, and since blue ice is the product of direct sun shinning on edges of ice, I was denied the spectacular blues I had been envisioning. It’s a mistake I will not make again. But as I painfully learned, it’s critical to balance out trip planning with tempered expectations. Environmental conditions are rarely perfect, so accept that fact, and in fact, expect it.

• Turn Short Trips Into Photographic Adventures: This year was chopped up into lots of small trips across the country for business and to visit friends and family. I found myself yearning to be out with my camera, and by September I became frustrated that much of the year had passed without my normal shooting output. Then just before Thanksgiving when visiting family in the South Carolina “low country” I had a revelation. Hire a guide! A little planning with a local photographer or travel guide can turn even the shortest trips into a photographic adventure. Try it in 2015.

• Hone Your Physical Body Along With Your Art: You rarely hear an artist talk about exercise as part of their “job description”. But I think it’s as critical as any other element of my work. To support my art deep into my life, keeping in good shape is a must if I want to avail myself of the best possible vantage points and perspectives. This September’s knee replacement surgery and rehab took me out for a few months of actual shooting but as part of my “job description”, it has hopefully set me up for the rest of my life behind the lens!

• Write Yourself Into A New Way Of Seeing: Though not my favorite endeavor, forcing myself to write Behind the Lens thoughts has provided an unexpected benefit; it has evolved my way of seeing. The written word has long provided people a way to circumvent their head and tap into another part of themselves. I have to admit, I was not a believer. But writing has oddly given me insight into how I see as a photographer and as a person, and I am grateful. Make writing a must for 2015.

Here are a few samples of mine from this past year: Motion Strokes, Why Landscape?, A Revelation in Vastness, Visually Feeling Texture, Reimagining A Flow Line, to Flow vs The Flow Line,  Flow and The Third Dimension

What have you learned this year? Post your biggest lessons so that we can all share in them.

I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings!

1 Comment

  1. Not sure my body is honeable!

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