Sometimes you forget the journey when you think you’ve arrived.
I am thinking this as I climb the dozens of steps up to Swayambunath Pagoda in Kathmandu. With the camera bag slung over a shoulder, it’s a little tough to mount every step and lift up myself/equipment one more step. But being Zen about it, thinking of each step and concentrating on just that one motion, makes the journey up surprisingly easier, and it seems to take no time at all.
When I get to the top of the temple, I realize this Zenlike approach is what I’ve missed about photography. I’ve been so busy with photography jobs that I’ve forgotten what was important about it in the first place. For 2012, my resolutions consist of going to go back to the beginning.
Getting lost in the ‘big picture’ is easy once you start getting commissions for your photography. In the last year, I’ve been lucky to have gotten a number of assignments I’ve enjoyed for both fashion and travel photography. But it seems that I only ever shoot when it’s a ‘job.’ In between these, my camera is silent, blind.
Zooming into little lessons that sustain this passion regularly is my first resolution. At Swayambunath, I had no assignment. It was just for fun. Even with the four a.m. wake up and the trek up the cold temple steps, I felt that rekindled love for this craft.
The fear of starting all over with something is a fear we relearn as adults. Our years teach us that we are good at something, and we hone that and nurture it until we can do it with our eyes closed.
Maintaining this expertise is important, but novelty is what sustains our artistry. Learning another genre is my second resolution. I’ve focused so much on portraits and reportage that those are all I ever do. But there’s something about landscapes that intrigue me. I want to look at a place and know what I have to do to make an image that makes me suck in my breath and smile.
Fall in love three times a day.
Remember the honeymoon period when you carried your camera around every day and took photos of everything?
What made you stop doing that?
It’s probably not because you ran out of subjects.
Matthew Fox once wrote, “If we fell in love with one of Mozart’s work each week, we would have seven years of joy. How could we ever be bored?” This sort of awe is what we need to be inspired, and stay inspired in our craft.
It’s very easy to be distracted these days. Connectivity makes it difficult to stay still and experience a process; things come to us at speeds measured in seconds, and our reality is becoming episodic, an electric mosaic of bits and bytes.
We need to slow down, like we do when we’re falling in love. Take it all in, pay attention to details, stay in the moment.
Now it’s your turn. What are your photography resolutions for 2012?
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