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“Tranquility can’t be grasped except by those who have reached an unwavering and firm power of judgment—the rest constantly fall and rise in their decisions, wavering in a state of alternately rejecting and accepting things. What is the cause of this back and forth? It’s because nothing is clear and they rely on the most uncertain guide—common opinion.” -Seneca

Do you ever feel confused, lack direction, or aren’t sure about what to pursue next when it comes to your photography? Or perhaps you feel that no matter what you do, you are simply trying to catch up and stay abreast of the latest technologies, techniques, and styles being promoted by others.

The relentless pace of the industry is disorienting to say the least, not to mention all of the other distractions and urgent tasks vying for our attention.

I noticed much of this during the time I spent at the years biggest photo conventions, Photokina in Germany and PhotoPlus Expo in NYC. There was an overwhelming amount of information, products, services, and promotions all directed at trying to convince us that more is better.

I’m sure there were many great things that indeed can add value to your photographic pursuits, but at what cost?

Time? Money? Creative distraction?

I’m not advocating against the new and exciting, nor do I have any problem with the photo industry, assuming we understand what their primary goals are, to turn a profit. It keeps people employed and puts money into the global economy.

What I am advocating for is to take a hard look at the quality of your investments, both in time and money. Consider which are more likely to make a meaningful difference vs simply satisfy a short term need for gratification.

Here are some hard questions to reflect on:

  • What makes you feel most connected to your work?
  • Where have you found the greatest benefit in the time you’ve invested?
  • When have you felt most proud of your work?
  • When did you last experience real growth in your work? Why?
  • Finally, have you considered where you want the creative path to take you?

Start with the end in mind, or better yet, a clear and solid understanding of what you want to get out of your creative pursuits. What motivates you?

  • Money?
  • Admiration from others?
  • Something fun and exciting to do?
  • The creative challenge?
  • The experience of being in nature?

Whatever it is, the clearer you are about it, the less you’ll be swayed by opinion, marketing, and self-doubt. The easier it will be to justify your actions and measure your results. You’ll think of new purchases as investments instead of expensive indulgences.

And I can guarantee you your photography will improve in measurable ways, and in the way that matters most—it will mean more to you.

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

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Robert, the opening quote by Seneca was breathtaking in it’s universal and natural truth.

    Your insight into Seneca’s meaning as applied to photographic pursuits perfectly aligns and balances individual pathways with todays market of “more” … WHATEVER the “more” actually can advance one’s sovereign goal(s) must be balanced by the use of the costs of time, research, price, etc, versus that identical time and energy spent creating your visions. If a photographer KNOWS that the “more” will – doubtlessly – advance their ability to experience a subject, in such a way, that they are or would be, photographically crippled to the point of being unable to produce work you admire and would proudly display, then it seems a wise investment, instead of being simply “up to date.”

    Thanks Again for your consistent vision, I appreciate it very much.


  2. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve quit selling photography so I can enjoy photography. I eliminated
    my web page. My Nikon pro equipment is 1 or 2 versions old. My equipment concept is, show me major improvements and I’ll consider buying. Don’t give me incremental improvements that are bells and whistles.
    I’ve adopted the idea that it is not equipment that is valuable — it’s the time I have left to enjoy the experience of being out in nature and enjoying photography. I have changed my emphasis from making money — to self publishing books that my children and friends can look at and enjoy after I am gone. Your thoughtful ideas are appreciated and this is a great little piece of writing.

    Len Holland

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