- Broaden your focus and then narrow it. Maybe that sounds odd, but it really isn't. Look out on the horizon of goals you have for yourself, the big picture. What is the focal point that they center on? Where do the lines of perspective point? I'm not very good at picturing myself in the future. What happens if I don't make it to that goal? Well, the alternative is no goal, no focus, shooting aimlessly into the unknown. I assure you, that's a worse place to be. A dream without a focus is like being stuck in the blurry fog of the foreground. It's disorienting. It's confusing. It's a time waster.
- Advance your film. Remember when cameras used film? I remember standing at the photo counter with my dad almost every weekend waiting to pick up photos. There were few greater frustrations to my dad than finding that his film hadn't advanced and several great shots were ruined. There are times I forget to advance my film. I get stuck into the rut of doing the same thing, expecting different results. My efforts keep overlapping but I'm not getting anywhere, there's no clear picture at the end. Keep checking to see that the film is advancing, that what you're doing is moving you ahead onto the clearer, perfectly focused goal.
- Don't give up until you have the money shot. I post a lot of pictures of my work on social media. When I post them I am trying to tell a story. I see the shot in my head but sometimes the lighting isn't just right, the background is too busy, or the detail isn't coming through. There are times I get a great image on the first shot and there are times I might take thirty pictures before I say, "Yes! That's the one." If I am going to put that effort into photographing my work, I should also be putting that effort into bettering my work and reaching my goals. A ho-hum effort will not lead to your best results. The fine details matter. It's worth taking time on those extra steps to get that "money shot," or to reach that focused goal set before you.
I have ideas. I have a lot of ideas. Sometimes I lack focus. This morning I saw a quote on an Instagram page that read, "You get what you focus on so focus on what you want." Immediately, I grabbed a pen and sketched the quote in my sketchbook. The past few months, I have realized the importance of keeping perspective and keeping focus. Here are a few things I have learned that may be of help to you in your journey.
Usually, I'm quite comfortable in my workspace. It's my own little slice of peace and quiet, the place I can create and be myself, typically by myself. I can jam out to Huey Lewis while I sketch, stream a favorite car show while I pack orders, or quietly engrave while listening to jazz late in the night. Tomorrow a photographer from a serious national news publication is coming to do a photoshoot and I'm nervous, maybe even a little self conscious, because my office isn't all business, it's personal (and a little weird).
I have a metal pedal car with a 31 inch Han Solo action figure parked alongside my bench. To some people, that is going to seem a bit strange. To me, it's hilarious and makes me laugh when I am stressing out about a project. The various action figures I have collected since I was a kid line the shelves on the opposite wall. My grandfather's hand built desk is now in place across from my bench and atop it are Star Wars mugs filled with pens and pencils, trinkets from friends and a blue picture frame that matches absolutely nothing except for the denim shirt worn by the person I'm standing next to in the framed photo.
I think most artists want to be taken seriously for their craft. I know I do. However, I don't take myself too seriously and try to enjoy the funnier things in life. That is amply reflected in my unusually decorated workspace and my quirky personality. The older I get, the more I realize the ever changing journey in adulthood of becoming comfortable in one's skin. (Even if it's the nerdy skin of an introvert whose comfort zone of odd always seems to be a surprise to people). It's possible to do serious, focused work in a place that is not so serious. And, for that, I feel thankful and blessed.