“When you reach the top, keep climbing!”
It’s an old proverb, but it’s the way I’ve seen great photographers in our industry stay focused. They never slow down and never stop trying to learn something new.
The first book I wrote was with Don Blair, Don Blair’s Guide to Posing and Lighting Body Parts. It was a guide on traditional portraiture, mostly about what to do with Mother Nature’s challenges, including bad complexions, eyeglasses, braces, posing of women who weren’t size 5, etc. Nobody could create a more flattering portrait than the legendary Big Daddy Blair himself. He was one of the very best.
Don was once asked, “What’s the best portrait you’ve ever done?” His answer said it all, “I don’t know, I haven’t done it yet!”
There’s no question that Don was one of the finest portrait photographers in the world, but at 75 he still hadn’t stopped learning. He still hadn’t created what in his heart he felt was his finest work. He always knew he could do better and kept attending every class he had time for.
Set your goals high, but never believe you’ve hit the top!
We’re part of an industry that’s continually changing. Paradigms shift every morning, sometimes as consistently as the sun coming up. Changes in communication and technology are always challenging us. Our creativity is never completely tapped, continuously being expanded by other photographers and leaders in the industry.
Have some fun with this little exercise: Take a look at the first images you ever captured, then look at your work today. Odds are you’ll have a front row seat to your own evolution. Photography is an ongoing process. As long as you keep learning your ability to evolve as an artist will never stop.
And remember – growth only happens outside your comfort zone. So, as you sign up for various classes during the year, always pick a few topics entirely outside your regular skill set.