2011 in Reflection

Chicken Little

Key: R20120101-155621-master

In years past I have taken occasion at the end of the year to look back on the year and reflect about what I’ve accomplished on my photographic journey and what goals I have set for the next year.  I am honestly not trying to toot my own horn here.  This is a journal, so it is mostly for me to look back and track my progress.  The thing I like about blogging is being able to read other’s journals and get ideas, be inspired, and take solace that others are struggling with their own creative goals, whatever they may be.

2011 was a good year, at least by most of my past measures of progress.  I entered several local contests and had pieces in all of the resulting shows.  I made a new folio (that is up to a higher standard of quality as far as the finishing), and learned some exciting new mounting techniques.  I didn’t make a book this year, but that was fine.  It was a conscious decision to skip doing so until I had a worthy project.  The making of a book just so I have “been there, done that” I have already done several times over now and is no longer interesting in its own right.  I attended a seminar by Dewitt Jones, and taught a mini-workshop on making folios.

But 2011 was also a year where the increasing feeling of “plateauing” weighed heavily upon me.  Near the middle of the year I was wrestling (mostly offline) with new ideas for getting out of my usual paths and forcing myself into some uncomfortable areas to help spark creativity.  The biggest issue here is trying to get myself out of being strictly a “found image” photographer.  To that I want to add a “create vision” photographer half; a kind of unrealized potential that I see.  To do this I wanted to force myself to create some photographs in a studio setting.  I didn’t want this to be an excuse to buy more gear, but sometimes just having a few new tools can let you experiment more easily with new ideas.  I purchased some inexpensive items to make a DIY mini-studio for shooting still life and macro subjects, bought a couple old manual focus portrait lenses and spent some days experimenting with these things.  I felt so far afield from my normal shooting habits that I made a new prefix for my image database keys: the “X” (for experimental) series–meaning I don’t even feel comfortable enough posting these images publicly that I felt the need to point out explicitly that they are experimental!

Looking forward to 2012, I plan to continue the these experiments and hopefully expand upon them.  I am interested in alternative printing techniques like cyanotypes made from digital negatives and might experiment with something like that a bit as well, if only just to get me out of my normal printing style.  Although I will still enter contests, I plan to put more emphasis on entering contests on the web, not just local ones. I’ll keep looking for reasonable opportunities to take workshops and seminars, but these are not a high priority, unless they look like they might directly assist with my goal of developing my other half (non-“found image” photography).  I continue to be intrigued by video and want to dabble in that a bit more.  There are likely to be more experiments like Menehune Weekend.

These are all lesser goals, however.  My absolute top goals for 2012 are:

  1. to organize my work into a much better online and offline presentation (separate from the blog),
  2. to reflect upon and prepare an artists statement that accurately reflects my work and style,
  3. to establish project-based photography as my main way of working.

I must really put some emphasis on these.  These are really critical to focus my work.  I feel more than ever that my own style becomes ever stronger, and usually it shows in whatever sorts of photographs I take.  I must figure out how to articulate that style and make that accessible to an audience, as well as organizing the work into coherent presentations.  Part of that will culminate in starting to put together solo shows of my work.  Looking at other bloggers I can often see their style coming through strongly, but there is no organization to the work.  It is just a loose collection of whatever they ran across in their day, or week.  This is also Eric, in 2011.  By the end of 2012 I would like to have some progress in organizing the photography so that it is not just a photostream, cool as those are.  This is a long row to hoe, and I expect to make only partial progress, but I am long past the time when I should have started that effort.  To finally tie in with today’s image: I have to stop running around like a chicken!

Lowest priority on the list: buy more gear.  My feeling is that my current kit is absolutely good enough for everything I am doing or want to do.  It is not constraining me in any way.  My gear is aging though.  I have a first-generation u4/3 mirrorless as my main camera.  Like all modern electronics its lifetime is measured in short years.  If the GH2 goes on a fire sale before the introduction of the GH3 I may buy one if I can find one at a good deal.  Or if the GH3 looks fantastic I may wait awhile until it drops in price and then buy one.  But I’ll happily keep chugging along with my GH1 and it’s “measly” 12 megapixel sensor until it gives out and/or I can pick up a new (old) replacement.

I am in need of a new tripod head, though, so I’ll probably be on the lookout for one sometime soon.  I’ll probably be fiddling with the lighting in my DIY studio so I may be making some lighting fixtures.  Also, soon I will have to make a decision about a new printer, because the old one will not last too much longer.  I will either succumb to the temptation to continue to “enjoy” the flexibility (and madness) of printing myself, or I will completely give up running my own printer and outsource all printing.  I am seriously considering the latter.

I could not finish this post without talking about music.  It is my second creative hobby, although it lags far behind photography in the amount of time that I give it.  In this area my goal is simply to play more and record more, and to try to expand my technique a bit beyond what I am doing now.  You will likely see the occasional post about music in 2012 as well.

Here’s hoping you reach your creative goals in 2012!

One thought on “2011 in Reflection

  1. Eric, certainly some worthy goals and directions for this year — a lot of work, dicipline and dedication to making them a reality. I’ve certainly enjoyed following your photography this past year and I look forward to seeing the directions you take this new year. Best of luck.

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