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Light at Eagle Lake, Acadia National Park / Canon 5DSR

No worries my friend, I have not disappeared or fallen off the edge of the earth, but instead have been super busy over the past six weeks with travel abroad, workshops, several new exciting projects, family, and yes even some landscape photography.

The good news is I’ll be returning to a regular schedule here on the blog so that I can continue to share what I think matters most; how to find and develop your creative vision.

Sure that may seem like a lofty goal, and it can certainly be elusive when you look at the big picture. But every significant achievement is composed of small deliberate steps, individual bricks if you will, that slowly build on one another to create a strong foundation of self-confidence and forward momentum.

In fact, not only have I experienced that in my work as a photographer, I am experiencing it all over again as I explore other creative outlets like drawing and painting. Yes I have slowly been working my way along the incredibly difficult path of starting with a blank canvas and becoming ever so frustrated with results that look nothing like what I envisioned. (Nothing I’m not already used to 🙂

But the journey so far has been incredible to say the least. It has improved my overall vision, strengthened my compositional skills, and also allowed me to become a beginner all over again.

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A spread in my watercolor sketchbook, which I carry with at all times when I’m in the field. I’ll share much more in upcoming posts about my journey in watercolor and how it influences my approach to nature photography.

I have applied all of these lessons to my photography with meaningful results, reinforcing my conviction that the study of all art is paramount to building a solid foundation for making art.

Regardless of what your chosen medium is, feeding your creative well provides a storehouse of ideas, inspiration, motivation, and a deeper appreciation of what all great artist’s do well; tell personal stories.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have explored several creative mediums in my life, from music, to photography and now to painting. Have I stopped being a musician? Perhaps, but the experiences of pushing my creative limits for decades as a musician still remain fresh in my mind, and I draw on them constantly as a visual artist.

Motivation is the critical component to improving in any craft, photography included. And my explorations with the brush have increased my motivation to push my limits as a photographer. They inform each other, and I think it gives me a deeper understanding of who I am. It’s another creative outlet that I enjoy without the pressure of making a living at it. It’s also a great way to keep the right side of my brain engaged when the temps drop below my comfort level outside.

I am in no way suggesting you need to pick up a brush or pencil, though I will say the benefits to both mind and spirt are immeasurable. As Betty Edwards says in her classic book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, the purpose of the book was “to bring right hemisphere functions into focus and to teach readers how to see in new ways, with hopes that they would discover how to transfer perceptual skills to thinking and problem solving.”

And that’s why I think any activity that engages your right brain more often—listening to music intently, drawing, playing an instrument, studying other art forms—will inevitably benefit you as a photographer.

That’s also what I hope to share here as much as possible in the future because I think it’s the only thing that will truly make a difference in the long run. Not the short-cuts, but the long-cuts.

I’m also working on a special project that I hope to unveil in early 2017. Lets just say that composition is the bedrock of my photography, and I think it can be learned as a skill, regardless of your current abilities.

Deliberate practice is the key, working at a level that seems just out of reach, but pushing yourself without being out of control. I’m developing a way to teach that and hope it’s something you can benefit from in the future.

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” -Picasso

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Fine art prints in my portfolio which I bring to every photo convention and use to share my creative workflow with attendees and potential students.

Photo Conventions and Workshops

Last month, I spent a week in Germany working as a guest artist with Canson Infinity at Photokina, and it was fun as always to chat with photographers and discuss papers and printing. I’ll be doing the same over the next three days at PhotoPlus Expo at the Javits Center in NYC.

Canson did release a new paper at Photokina, Bartya Prestige, which is similar to Platine Fibre Rag and Baryta Photographique, but it’s heavier (340gsm), has the widest color gamut of any Canson paper, and features a subtle surface texture reminiscent of dark room prints. I’ll post more info and a field test soon, but you can watch my short video for Canson here. 

If you’re in the area, please stop by the booth and say hello. I’m always happy to answer questions and chat about anything that can help you become more creative.

I am also extremely grateful for the students who joined me last week in Maine for the Acadia Autum Adventure workshop. We had a great time, great weather, we all learned a great deal, and spent lots of valuable time engaged in deliberate preactice. Hard work always pays off.

Lastly, I just want to say thanks for being a reader of this blog and for all of your support. This certainly isn’t the easiest road to making a living, but the benefits are totally worth it for me. Just one email that expresses how I helped someone become more confident makes my day—in fact it’s all I need to continue down this path.

Thanks also for being patient while I engage in the thinking and learning that will help me communicate to you the value of developing your creative vision.

Share your thoughts and feedback below!

RR Jr

Experience your work in the real world. The Printmaker Masterclass is live and growing! Learn more here.

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Love your tutorials and your landscape images. I am a beginner in fine art photography and just learning about what you have said. I’m quoting,, it’s essential to control the outcome. Simply relying on the camera to faithfully capture the essence of your “reaction” is likely to leave you feeling frustrated.” Although I have been involved in sports photography for several years. Your blog and You Tube tutorials have helped me so much especially those on matting, printing and framing my images. Unfortunately I live in a large city and rural landscapes are pretty much no where to be found. However I have had some beautiful black and white cityscapes which I print on Canson Baryta Photographique paper using a Canon Pro 100 printer. I just purchased a Canon 1dx mk2 but I am now thinking the 50 megapixel 5d dsr would have been a better choice for my cityscapes. Although I do not make prints larger than 13 x 19 inches 20 megapixels might be satisfactory for my purposes. Hope see you at PhotoExpo in New York and offer my thanks for helping me with my venture into fine art photography. Jerry!

  2. Thank you for your approach to creativity! I am learning to see better, and to take better photos. I have read both of your Kindle books recently, and was inspired. In fact, you are the reason I started using Kindle. I look forward to hearing more about your new project!

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