... is to finish the work.
I came across this in George Barr's book, Why Photographs Work, specifically his essay and interview with Kim Kauffman. Recently, I have received a steady stream of gentle and no so gentle reminders along these lines - discipline, focus, direction, projects. And the beginning of a new year always seems like a good time to pause, take stock, appreciate the progress made, and make course corrections as needed. This isn't a process I expect to be done with anytime soon but I am getting some ideas. My general feeling is this - getting out there and shooting is easy for me, the exploration something I enjoy. What I feel is lacking, and where I want to be stronger, is in the depth of that exploration, the difference between skimming the surface and deeply understanding a subject. The idea is still developing, and so a bit fuzzy, but making it more clear is also part of the process.
So what will I finish this year that will add depth to my photography?
Develop two to three portfolios from photographs I've already shot - The process of selection is fantastic for highlighting strengths and weaknesses and will suggest where to narrow my focus.
Continue a program of studying other photographers and their photographs - All along I've been looking at the work of other photographers but I have recently made it into a regular, and serious, part of what I do. I recommend Barr's book, among others, if you're interested in how photographers work and why they made the choices they made.
Print my own work - I'm really excited about this one. Until now, I've sent my images to a lab for printing and they have done a good job. But there is something immensely satisfying about looking at a print that I made, from beginning to end. I expect the process of producing quality prints to place demands on my shooting and processing skills as well, pushing my learning in all areas.
There will be other projects and none will be truly 'finished' but this is the direction I have laid out for this coming year. What are you taking on and what will you finish?
Note - the image above is one I've been working on printing. Already, I'm paying closer, more critical attention to composition, tonal range and the like.