If Only I Knew Then What I Know NOW!
I was looking through some old images thinking to myself "These look pretty good, they're unique, they're story-telling, they're what I strive to capture now actually." Whilst also thinking "But...what I would do differently now, look at those shadows, look at this face, look at tha--- HOLD ON!" It's easy to get to lost in the details of what makes something good, good. You reach this point where you can take any path on the fork in the road. To the left, continued ignorance, but you continue to be creative within this, and you continue to have fun. Let's call this "auto mode." Down the center, increased knowledge, but you begin to lose the creative edge in light of details. Let's call this "semi-auto mode", ex: Shutter-priority, or Aperture Priority.
To the right, diving deep into details, and immersing yourself into a world of details so intricate you have to think about the details before you can shoot. Let's call this full manual. You can find any amount of shot in this mode, but you have to think about your shot a little bit before you take it. Or you can be like me and forget to set your settings because of excitement take a bunch of photos and realize..."well. crap." This is something I actively work on every time I go out and shoot and I'm about 95% on point when I start shooting. Since there is a 1 in a million chance (I'm making up numbers here) to get any said shot in the wild world once, you have just lost your chance. You got too deep in the details. So you begin to pre-plan, but you find even pre-planning doesn't help. You can begin to lose the creative bug, you get caught up "There's too much ISO! Shutter speed is too slow! There's too much... -- " whatever.
Before you begin to think I am denigrating any of those paths on the fork, let me clarify, I am not doing that. I am merely making the idea relatable to the every day photographer. It's far too easy to get lost in the details when you go out and shoot as you begin to do this more, and get clientele, and do projects. You can be the most knowledgeable person in the room about your camera, its details, its specs, the lenses, the specs of the lenses, the capabilities of the shot, the capabilities of the camera, what filters are the best...and yet, when you go out and shoot, if you're caught up in the details details details it can be detrimental. Whilst we're at it, notice you cannot spell "detrimental" without "mental" - stop letting the details get to your head. Start shooting from the hip, start shooting just to shoot, start changing things up just because. Life is about a mentality, PMA rules the day. If you let the details get to you all the time, you'll never find yourself open to possibility. I for one have been inspired to shoot again just by looking at old photos and seeing a spicy ingredient of "ignorance" mixed with the other ingredient, "desire." What used to drive me, I now feel I understand, yet I stayed in that mindset for far too long. I told myself I didn't know enough, so I learned. I learned then I earned. I bought the gear, and now I'm here. But where is here? It's time to get out and be a change maker, a documentarian, a person of interest who shows the world the good, bad and ugly, to not be afraid of what's in front of you, to be bold and daring because why not? I challenge you reading to try all the paths, try to do it unconsciously, but do it. Resist the urge to go back to your preferred method. It will be hard, but change is hard is it not? What matters is staying consistency conscious of where you are, until you become unconscious of what you're doing. Find your flow state. The truth is, I actually do take good photos now. They've won me large projects, they've won me placements in juried art competitions, it won me a first place spot to get a print and a hand written card from world famous National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg. I take photos the former Chris would be amazed at. I see the talent I've amassed in the last few years of schooling myself. However, one must be honest with themselves if they want to move forward. But I also see the limitations of a proverbial box I put myself into as I've gotten into the technical details of this hobby turned profession. It pays to know your camera, it pays to know your gear. I mean let's be real, would your boss let you carry around thousands of dollars of gear and allow you zero knowledge of how to use it?
Being your own boss means you're accountable to no-one except yourself.