Sunday, January 02, 2011

10 Things I've learned in 2010 (in no particular order)

As the new year is just hours old I'm reflecting back on the year gone by. What I did right, and what I did not quite right. Hopefully I've grown as a person and a photographer. I'm grateful for both. And hopefully I've learned a few things along the way. That's how we grow. To keep learning, every day, every week, every year. These are a few things that I've learned, or re-learned, in 2010.

1. It's darn hard to explain to someone how to "feel" the moment is right to make an exposure. Everyone wants instruction in absolute measure to get quantitative results every time. Photography doesn't work that way. Even in digital. Maybe somewhere it does, but not here, not with my eye, my heart or my soul.

2. Old friends are treasures and new friends are wonderful gifts. Thankfully in 2010 I reconnected with some people that I fell out of touch with for years and made many new beautiful friendships.

3. Making images is as fun today as it was the first time I borrowed up my dad's Konica camera to photograph a lunar eclipse a very long time ago. Every single day I wake up filled with excitement and passion for this amazing profession.

4. You can't please everyone... especially in photography. Therefore, I will make pictures my way. Some people will love them, others won't. Some things never change.

5. There are positive people and negative people in the world. I will spend my time with the former and stay away from the latter.

6. I still love film. I love the discipline it requires to shoot only 36 images a roll, the technical skill it demands to focus (manually) and expose properly and the resulting tones it delivers. There is nothing like it anywhere. You cannot replicate the luscious tonality of a black and white negative in digital no matter how much you try. Even though I've been shooting digitally for all of the last decade, I am dedicating myself to using film for a great number of personal projects in the next decade.

7. Doing personal work clears my mind and sharpens me for commissioned work. I will do more personal projects this year. I'm working on a few things now that will come to fruition in 2011.

8. Leica cameras are the best cameras in the world (IMO). They are, as they've always been, an extension of my hand, mind and spirit. There is something magical about them. I see differently when I use a Leica -- clearer, more precise, more compositional. They "feel" right. Every lens they ever made sees the word in its own unique manner. I had the pleasure of using a 3.5 cm lens for a few shots this year. The lens was made in the late 1930 and created images I can only describe as "poetic." I want to do more pictures with that kind of glass.

9. I love light and creating beautiful light makes my heart sing. Even though a lot of my work is done using available light, I really enjoy bringing out my own set of lights and sculpting the scene. I miss it. I miss big softboxes, strip lights, my beauty dish and all those wonderful grid spots I so often used. At the end of 2010 I invested in a couple of octabanks and a new powerful battery operated flash unit. I'm looking forward to shooting with it a lot in the new year. It's going to be a great piece of gear for on-location portraiture.

10. You have to dream big. You have to work hard. You have to eat, sleep and breath this thing called photography to get to the next level. It's about immersion. No excuses. You just have to do it. All the time. Shoot, shoot and shoot some more.

Well that's about it for 2010. Now it's time to get to work on 2011. A new year brings the hope for great things, new challenges, and with luck, a few rewards along the way. I'm looking forward to one heck of a great time this year as things unfold. Stay tuned. Thanks.

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