“Laughter is the language of the soul.”
― Pablo Neruda
I'm currently staying with family in North Bend outside of Seattle, Washington. It's a beautifully clear and cold day and I'm looking out at a snow-fringed Mt. Si. I'm listening to the children in the family play together... their giggles floating down the hallway. I'll never grow tired of that sound. I guess it's pretty natural this time of year to reflect on the past year and what's to come. As I have a chance to catch up on sleep and play with loved ones I've started to reflect more on this past year and some of the steps I've taken as a photographer. In any pursuit there are a number of hats to wear or disciplines to develop in order to be successful. For me they can be summarized as the Creative, the Technician, the Connector, the Businessman and the Student-Teacher (or Servant-Leader). There may be others but it's how I've come to think about things. We may focus more or less on any of these but I believe they are all needed in order to really maximize our potential in a given field. I've been thinking about how I can balance my growth in each of these areas.
When I think about the year before last, 2013 was very much a Technical focus for me. I started working in my studio space and invested the time and energy to shoot regularly - starting to do a lot of tests with models. It was such a great experience to learn the 'heavy lifting' required to bridge the gap between a vision and the execution of that concept. Many mistakes were made (and are still made!) and a number of happy accidents that drives a deeper understanding. I guess one of the big takeaways from that period was a certain technical confidence... the knowledge that I could generally muddle my way through something and find my way to the other side. That said, the butterflies before a 'big shoot' have never gone away, either!
When I reflect over the past year I realize that this period has become an important time of Connection for me. While the introverted part of my certainly appreciates the opportunity to spend time in studio fiddling with equipment and solving technical problems I know that the most rewarding moments for me are working with talented people and sharing a common passion with them. Although it seems very obvious as I type these words now I realize now that I was too inwardly focused... and far too comfortable... taking on incremental challenges and not pushing myself out of my comfort zone - both artistically and in meeting other people. So I've put a lot more focus on meeting fellow photographers, designers, stylists, models and creatives of all stripes and the results have been phenomenal. It's a great reminder to me that no matter how important social media may be these days... nothing replaces reaching out and connecting with another human being. In fact, it's the only thing I've found that creates a 'true partnership' and is the basis for the experiences that I treasure most - where I can learn from others and we can achieve something remarkable.
When I think about the year to come I now know I will be much more focused on connecting with like-minded folks to continue this journey. I'm really looking forward to working more closely with local boutique owners and designers. I'm excited to take workshops and to meet with local agencies and in Los Angeles this spring. Other focus areas include getting published in more established markets and working on more artistically ambitious concepts. Yes, I want to push myself out of my comfort zone. In fact, I want to live in a way that I often feel when I'm traveling abroad... with my nerves slightly exposed, open to life's possibilities and growth opportunities.
I'd like to wish you success and joy and some 'exposed nerves' in 2015... as you set course on your own journey of exploration and self-discovery. I hope we'll have an opportunity to cross paths.