“There’s no particular class of photograph that I think is any better than any other class. I’m always and forever looking for the image that has spirit! I don’t give a damn how it got made.”

– Minor White

Now that we have jumped into a new year and I really need to get the ball rolling again, I thought I would go through (in no particular order) lessons that have been learned from a continual desire to live a creative life.

Stories are abound of photography adventures, tips, tricks, how-to’s. Along with the never ending advice on gear and must have’s. Most information of this sort I find rather boring if not down right misleading.

Casual photographers, those who occasionally take their “snap shots” of places, moments, or events, not withholding, find their picture taking enjoyable and worthy of sharing with friends and family. For the most part I rarely discover much, if anything, about what they have learned or are wanting to learn from their endeavors. Possibly due to not much forethought put in to such things. Photography is fun for many and this is a good thing, but it doesn’t have to stop there.

My thoughts on lessons learned move far beyond the “photography is fun” stage, as most who visit here or follow any of my work hopefully understand. It was not a quick move to go from having fun to understanding there is more to photography than taking pictures. Learning this has taken years and even now I feel as though I am only a freshman in the learning journey. I believe this to be a good thing as well.

When I started thinking about putting this post together I stared by making a list of general topics of lessons learned. It quickly became rather long. In about one minute I had listed eighteen possible subjects. I will not attempt to go into them all, but some stand out more than others.

Lessons Learned –an insight into the mind of one artists

  • Opportunity

    • To see things as they are and then to see things for what else they are. A direct reference to Minor White‘s quote: “One should not only photograph things for what they are but for what else they are.”

This, for me, is now a given. I can no longer simply look at a possible subject to photography and only see what it is visually. My mind instantly begins to explore other aspects of its nature. When I recently was captivated by an old hollowed out tree stump deep in the forest I could not help but wonder how old it may have been before falling to the elements. What is was like in it’s prime. How may animals called it home. Even the sound of it’s wind blown leaves as they sang into the air around it. It was not simply a tree stump, it represented something else. Something I longed for, something I yearned to experience. Subsequently my photograph consistently reminds me of something other than a tree stump.

  • Patience

This may be a given for most artists. Nothing of importance or personal meaning comes quickly or with ease. In the beginning I seemed to not be able to photograph enough. Nearly everything I saw I thought I wanted to photograph. Not understanding the true nature of a photograph or myself I was extremely inpatient. Subsequently I became extremely disappointed with many if not most of my photographs. This did not disappear overnight, over a week, month, or year. It is still an ongoing process by understanding my interests and desires to create an image.

  • Learning to except the things I can not change or control

This has history for me personally. I  have an addictive personality. Addictive in the sense that if  I think a little of something is good then I want all I can get. Another way I can explain this is to say, I do not do most things in moderation. I can literally become addicted to them quickly. Physically and or mentally.

  • Less is many times more

This is separate from the lesson above pointing out my lack of moderation. Less in this instance can be as simple as less equipment, less worrying, and the big one for me, less overthinking. I have a printed out quote hanging over my desk that states: Overthinking is the biggest cause of unhappiness. These words are as true as anything I have ever read.

  • Creativity begins in your mind regardless of what tools (if any) you may have

Yes most all creators have some type of tool. A camera, a pencil, doesn’t really matter. The important part is they have found a way to express themselves. I am presently exploring an additional way to create and express more about myself. This is a direct result of the creative spark existing in my mind. (I will throw out a little teaser here. I hope to be able to share this addition creative outlet this year.)

  • Confidence

In oneself and ability. This can be a struggle for many who create. Critiques are everywhere. It may very well be an overstatement in today’s society, but in order to gain some resemblance of success one must many times “put themselves out there.” It is not a requirement. It is possible to simply create for the sole purpose self satisfaction with no intent of sharing it with a single other person. At some point this is likely to change and the need for others to know, understand, learn from, or be part of your creative choices are likely.

  • Introversion is a virtue

In many ways this goes hand and hand with confidence but they are not the same. I view confidence as the state of oneself in the face of uncertainty. Introversion is a foundation that such things as confidence is placed upon. Attempting to explain this here would be a complete diatribe. (Remember my lesson mentioning moderation.) I can go on and on and on about the virtues of being an introvert. Now, many years into this life I feel I have come to a realization of it’s true blessings. The power of introverts – Scientific America

I could continue with many more lessons learned from my list. Even the act of putting these down here has made me think of a few more.

I hope this somewhat alternate approach of bringing in the new year can be of some insight. It rivals the similar process of “things to be thankful for.” I wanted to do something different for the first post of 2018. I have never found much desire for the common “Best Of” list of images that many photographers seem gravitate to at each years end. I have seen many the last few weeks dotting social media feeds and blogs posts. Honestly, I have not viewed a single one from beginning to end.

A few more from my list:

  • importance of preparation…
    double checking everything.
    time management.
    expanding interests.
    having an open mind.
    willingness to try new things.
    knowing not having the most up to date or current tools does not restrict creativity.
    being creative has nothing to do with what tool you have.
    kiss- keep it simple stupid.
    in almost all instances the less gear, the fewer pieces of gear or accessories allows for greater creativity.
    learn to get the most out of what you have… expanding creativity.
    the undeniable importance of solitude.
    think less about what you are doing and more about why you are doing it.

Here’s to a great year full of all that is good.

nature photography

Bear Witness -TRFA_814753 | ©Brad Mangas

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The Creative Advantage

Why I Photograph

The Uncommon Journey