I will be the first one to say that 2022 was a wild ride. My photography took a distant back seat to life pouring in from all directions. I left my employer of 16 years — the place I honed most of my IT skills — and ventured out to new horizons. We sold our first home and bought a bigger second home. We helped our kids struggle through the emotional damage of 2020 lockdowns, and even started riding the economic uncertainty wave with the rest of the country. So much has transpired in the last 9 months that aragonseye.com suffered a shortage of content and rolls and rolls of film started stacking up in my storage room. At one point, I had 5 color negative developer kits, 2 reversal kits, and at least 2 years of black and white developer. I still have nearly all of it. So with the year coming to a close and everybody putting out their final 2022 post, I have this overwhelming desire to be part of something, so I give you my 5 photography takeaways from 2022 in hopes that maybe some of it will ring true for you and give you a reason to get out there and shoot. Also, it’s my therapy. So, without further ado..
Make time for your photography.
Photography, like any good hobby, should take time. It should require some thought, planning, and even a bit of hard work. It should never be discouraging. While there are certainly aspects of just about any hobby that are less fun and more work, those duties shouldn’t deter us from the pleasure of engaging our chosen diversion. However, in order to get any traction, we have to set aside some time, dream up the occasional project idea, plan out the logistics, gather the gear, and set foot out the door!
When it doesn’t feel right, do something else.
I can’t stress this enough. This is free therapy. If you don’t want to go shoot, don’t force it. Why? Because you’ll hate the images. They’ll feel rushed, and your hobby will quickly become a chore. Do you want to know what a hobby that’s becoming a chore feels like ? Go count the blog posts for 2022 on aragonseye.com. There are 8. That’s not even one article a month. At the high point of my love affair with photography, I was cranking out multiple articles a week and, if nothing else, at least two a month. When it becomes a chore to enjoy your hobby, go do something else.
Don’t expect amazing photographs.
They can happen, no doubt, but the odds are not in your favor. Ask me how I know. I took my Leica M3 out to the Botanic Gardens a couple weeks ago and ended up with ninety-six out-of-focus shots. Thinking my Leica needed some tender love and maintenance, also known as a CLA (clean, lubricate, adjust), I grabbed my fallback camera, the Canon F1n. This time the shots were still blurry, largely due to shooting below f/4 and hoping for the best. That nifty fifty lens isn’t the sharpest lens in my kit. But when you don’t shoot regularly, then pick up some random camera off the shelf, you’re going to have a bad time. Brace yourself by setting low expectations. Revel in the process, take time to properly compose, check your metering, and enjoy hearing the shutter fire. Don’t even worry about the results if you haven’t picked up a particular camera in a while.
Collaborate in person, not online.
This comes from the last two years of panicdemic where we were all so afraid to die we locked ourselves inside and refused to live. To mitigate the most harmful effects of this self-destructive behavior, we had virtual happy hours, virtual photo walks, camera swaps, cross-postings, but the reality is we all became glass-boned, sickly binary avatars. Our “friends” were digitized and our feelings auto-corrected. The poor health of the photography community in your area might just be the result of this introversion, and the community might need an injection of ‘face time’ and not the Apple version. Get friends together, go meet up for a photo walk in your neighborhood, and end it with lunch at a local pub. Later, you can share any good times and good photos with the larger online audience.
Take good notes.
I don’t mean blog, although if you really love something you should write about it. I’m suggesting that you keep a field notebook with you for those popup ideas that happen while you’re out shopping or in that Agile Standup that was supposed to be 2 minutes from each of you, but turns into a 45 minute brainstorm session that hyperfocuses on one issue, wasting everybody’s time and killing productivit… oh, wait, we’re talking about photography notes. Copious note taking is the mark of somebody with a catalog of great ideas whenever the bug bites. Got a free Saturday? Crack open that notebook, pick a quick project and go knock it out!