I had a great year last year. I shot thousands of photos, worked with some incredible people, and made things that I'm truly proud of. And like anything worth doing, I learned some things along the way. I could probably put out dozens of things I've learned, but at the moment, there are five that are incredibly vivid for me. These are the five things that I learned about photography in 2017.
1. Be humble. And not because Kendrick Lamar released that song. In previous years I may have shuttered when someone told me the wrong terms for camera settings or suggested software for me to transition away from my standard. I've since recognize that when someone reaches out for help or has a suggestion, it's a great opportunity to be appreciative, maybe lend some advice, or just listen. In 2017, I quickly gave up afternoons to spend time with strangers in coffee shops. I explained graduated filters, lighting subjects, and adjusting settings to add creative aesthetic to images. I can honestly say that I got more out of it than anyone else.
2. Remember that things take time to develop. Part of my disinterest in meeting new creatives in years past was that I was afraid they would use my techniques and become a better photographer than me. I've learned to let that go, though. Sure, they may become better than me, but it's taken me years to refine my practice, and chances are that it's going to take them years to build proficiency. Where I am today is a far cry from where I started, and even farther still from where I hope to be in the years to come. Everyone is on a journey: some people will improve and some will decide it's not for them.
3. Don't be afraid to let some things go. Over the course of the year, I shot thousands of images and there were certainly some that could have been improved with some small tweaks. At the end of the day, perfectionism can hold artists back from progress, though. When it comes to the minute details, let go for now and think about it again on the next shoot. Photography is all about improvement.
4. Spend some time studying up. I had to realize that there's power in doing your homework. Researching shoots from the ground up may add a ton of time, but the results are so incredibly worth it. Moreover, the history of photography is so rich. Photographers across genres have created powerful works of art that can lend great inspiration and show you what's already been done before -- mistakes included.
5. Don't forget to slow down. I finally realized that I needed to slow down and pay attention to the finer details. This one piggybacks on the perfectionism, too. When I had a chance to slow down last year, I had more time to think about the lighting, the outfits, the posture. I had time to make photographs that were meaningful and told a story, rather than just some pretty pictures.