Focusing your efforts on specific skills is an incredible way to grow quickly as an artist. I’ve done photography for seventeen years, and yet my most recent work is so much better than what I was doing even a year ago. I spent much of the fall and winter improving my photography skills with some intense shooting, including three weeks in the Middle East, three weeks in the Southwest American desert, and two weeks in Northern Minnesota – where I took this image of a river cascading through the forest. In all, I shot over 10,000 landscape images in four months. All that shooting has helped me dramatically improve my scouting, composition, and ability to capture dramatic light and detail. By shooting over and over (while analyzing my work critically and still shooting judiciously), I made enormous gains in the quality of my field work.
And after that travel, I’ve spent the last couple months primarily editing those images. Just like my field work, my post-processing has improved dramatically. My art reveals much depth, color, and dramatic light than ever before. My only real distraction has been that I’ve stopped to do some coding and update Lumenzia as I continue to learn new techniques and see new possibilities in luminosity masking.
It was a gorgeous hike, but the light was rather flat for anything you might capture in the camera. But I was now able to see the opportunity in the field, and then later fully realize my vision for the image behind the computer. Today, I’m working on a 40×60″ framed canvas of this image to hang. A few years ago, I probably would have walked right by this scene, or perhaps shot it and then later deleted the image.
If you’ve never taken time to focus on one area of your art for a period of time, I urge you to do so. It’s fun to bounce from one activity or idea to the next. And we need to see how the big picture comes together. But when you focus on specific aspects of your art, you begin to grow in profound ways. You begin to develop new understanding of your challenges and opportunities. You hone your workflows. And you do your best work.