12 years ago I had no idea that Photofocus would be so widely read. I had no idea that it would become such a big part of my life. I started the site because I wanted to pass on some of the things I’d learned about photography. I had never considered doing any serious teaching. But I realized it was rewarding. It’s more than transmitting information. It’s all about engaging, motivating and inspiring photographers into the world of new ideas.
There are no do-overs in life. And all this refrigerator-magnet wisdom in this post is designed to one simple thing. I want to teach one of the most important lessons ever. I want to release all of you who spend so much time analyzing your photography that you forget to move forward.
There will be plenty of time to understand what’s happened to your photography later in life. When you’re new (or relatively new) you should spend your time looking ahead. Planning the next shoot, learning the next technique, practicing with that new piece of gear, looking at new work from other photographers, attending conferences and workshops and networking with your peers. These are the things that will propel you toward your photographic goals.
A friend of mine recently bemoaned shooting all day and getting “nothing good.” I’d suggest that later in life, she might have a different opinion. I have the advantage (or disadvantage) of being older than most of my audience. If there is any benefit to my age, it’s in being able to look back and have that backward perspective. Sometimes we spend too much time formulating the wrong opinions about our circumstances. Looking forward, we always have hope. Looking backwards we simply evaluate what we did. There is no hope of doing that which we have already done differently. While this evaluation leads to understanding – it’s not something that we need to worry about so much when we’re starting out. Focus forward. Have hope. Work with the winds of joy of exploration at your back. Be a five-year-old. Focus of new discovery. Try new things. Build your skills and develop your craft.
Then when you have gray hair like me, you’re allowed the luxury of evaluating how well you did. You’ll have the full understanding of what you did right and what you did wrong. Some might ask, “But wouldn’t it be great to know then what you know now?” It’s not possible. Because if I’d have spent the time looking backward then to gain understanding – it would have been an understanding of the road I had not traveled yet. Live life forward. There’s a whole great big world for you to photograph and it’s waiting.