I can remember, vividly, how the process of photography felt as a new photographer. It was a roller coaster that went something like this: There I was…in the zone…completely lost in the process of taking photos. In that moment, I was certain that I was striking photographic gold and that I had really found my thing. I would ride that wave of excitement for a day or two until the cold, hard truth would come, wrapped in a little gold Kodak envelope containing my photographs.Wow, I really stink…
After shooting professionally for 15 years I can tell you that the process still haunts me. Not because the events of over a decade ago are still fresh in my mind, but because they still play out to different degrees to this day.
We’re all looking to improve our photography, to take images that satisfy us and inspire others. It’s the path that we’re forced onto a few humbling seconds after we download our first memory card chock full of underwhelming images, unexpected results, and missed moments. This cycle of disappointment follows us through our history as photographers and while we can improve upon our success rate, the inevitable frustration never seems to go away completely.
We will all wrestle with disappointment but the key to achieving our photographic goals depends on how we deal with the one true problem that stands in our way. Simple to sum up but difficult to circumvent, it’s both your photographic roadblock and your life’s challenge.
Now, this is the part where I tell you that YOU are the problem. I can sense your hand searching for your mouse so you can click to a website with articles about shiny new cameras and lenses which hold the promise of helping you take better photos. Reality check time….you’ve bought a new camera or lens in the past and your photos still suck much of the time…so how’s that working out for ya?
The problem is you, and always will be. Now stick with me on this, this isn’t going to spiral down into psychobabble and, I promise, I’m here to help. In my 15 years as a photography educator I’ve seen every single one of my students repeatedly confront this obstacle. It’s not going away! It’s my problem, it’s the problem your favorite photographers face and it’s the biggest thing standing in your way.
Through teaching workshops and guiding mentoring students I’ve learned more than a few ways around this problem and I want to share them with you in a series of posts called Finding Focus.
My goal is to move you around the typical obstacles that we all face but can’t always see. Don’t worry, we’ll keep things fun and you can choose whether or not to lay on your couch as you read them.