What Should I Do Next?
A reader writes about being stuck.
I'm trying to figure out where to go from here and am hoping I can get some insight from "Master" Brooks. I thought I would start with Letting Go Of The Camera but I'm worried that like the hundreds of other books I have, if it will be just another book that sinks in and goes nowhere. I've looked through your Education section and I think the one-on-one eConsultation might be good for me but maybe not yet. I guess what I'm asking is, what should I do next?
There is a time in our photographic careers where the "what's next" has everything to do with rounding out our technical skill set. This phase can take a long time. As a result, it can become a habit. As a habit, it's natural to ask What should I learn next? rather than What should I product next? Once a photographer has developed the rudimentary technical skill set — and particularly after they've developed a reasonable technical skill set — it's time to start making something. Recognize that phase requires its own learning curve. That is to say, one has to learn how be an artist. Here was my advice to this photographer:
No more classes.
No more books.
No more "preparations."
Time to do.
Commit yourself to some photographic project that you can and will complete. It might be small, it might be big. It might be physical and paper, or it might be digital. That's not important. What counts is that it be something completed —all the I's dotted and T's crossed. Fini.
Then do another.
I find it easiest to think in terms of a series. That way I'm not reinventing the medium at every turn. The most important aspect is regularity — once a week, once a month, once a quarter — and then stick with it. A monthly PDF, a quarterly Blurb book, a weekly blog post, a series of 5-print folios — the format doesn't matter. Think in terms of a big project that consists of smaller completions.
Do this for a year without getting side-tracked. As alternative ideas and other projects occur to you and tempt you, jot them down so you can follow up with them later, but stay focused on the completion of your commitment.
Call me a year from now and let me know what you learned.