I have been thinking recently about how to develop my skills as a photographer and I was reminded of how I learned to play golf. They are connected by the pursuit of mastery, the process of simply getting better and striving to reach a level that is never attainable. The more you learn about something, you find out the more there is to learn. It becomes a journey with peaks, troughs and plateaus and a range of emotions to accompany each.
As I look back to the time when I fully applied myself to becoming the best golfer I could possibly be, I focused on perfect practice. This is the principle that practice is only beneficial when the activity makes you better. In the context of golf, most people simply go to the golf range and hit as many golf balls as they have time for, are able to, can afford, etc, etc. Through this activity they develop a belief that more equals better. Perfect practice says more practice does not necessarily equal better. Only practicing good habits make you better and that requires you be very intentional with your practice.
In the world of photography I liken this to taking more pictures doesn’t make you a better photographer. Practicing your craft with intention while getting reliable feedback will make you better. With this in mind, I have begun a disciplined photography practice following the guidance of Freeman Patterson. He has designed a series of practices to help the photographer develop their ability to see. I’m not blind, but I believe I have become accustomed to focusing on the destination and how to get there the fastest rather than focusing on the journey and really seeing and experiencing what is around us. If I develop my ability to see, I will develop a much greater awareness of the things that are around me.
Periodically I am going to share some output of my practice. I am pretty sure it will be different to what you have seen before and I suspect it will be easy to dismiss it as worthless but I invite you to take a look and decide for yourself if you see anything different. It might be worthless, that is for you to decide. This first set of pictures represents the opposite of how I take pictures today. For example, I must keep the camera steady, I must focus perfectly on the subject, I must…..