UPDATE: Please note that the central thesis here is that you should concentrate on what is important to YOU – it’s a given that everyone will have their own opinion as to what is meaningful. You’ll get more out of the post if you don’t take the pedantic view of the information and concentrate on the central idea. Thanks.
A business leader I admire once said, “We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.”
I never forgot that speech – and I’ve spent significant time seeing how it could apply to my life and my photography.
I have lived to make a few important images. I know the difference between the mundane and the spectacular – as do most of you. But knowing what’s important and meaningful isn’t as easy. It is different for everyone. And that’s why it’s so intriguing to me.
The “spray and pray” approach to photography rarely yields anything other then mediocre images. The slow, deliberate, contemplative approach – now that’s a different story altogether.
I don’t have any answers here – but sometimes you need to start with the right question and I think I have found that question. What would happen to you – to me – to all of us – if we stopped just taking pictures and instead, focused our photography (and our lives for that matter) by doing only work that was truly important or meaningful to us? I am trying to find out the answer to that question for myself. I’ve been asking it now for two years. I am getting the sense that what will happen is a lower volume of work with a higher overall quality. I am starting to feel like the images I make matter more – at least to me.
There will be a temptation for some to start thinking about this in a way that isn’t helpful. They may start trying to make images that are important or meaningful to someone else because that will gain them glory. That won’t work in my opinion. This exercise needs to be important to YOU – nobody else matters. What is meaningful to YOU?
There seems to be a rush to mediocrity in so many of the things that surround us lately that we may be in danger of simply forgetting about excellence. I hope that doesn’t happen and I think that by concentrating on what’s important and or meaningful, we’ll be closer to mastering this thing called photography.