This is the time of year when most of us look back and reflect before looking forward to a fresh slate of ideas and goals. I am no different, and so when I looked at 2017 I realized that it was a year of learning, particularly in my photography pursuits. Learning has always been important to me, but now I know that it is central to my sense of self and it kindles my passion and excitement.
I spent a week in Portland, Oregon last September taking a flower workshop with Kathleen Clemons and Donna Eaton. It was a fluke that I got in because the class was full when I contacted Kathleen. I had been reading her E-book, All about Textures, and experimenting with applying textures to my flower images when I had the urge to write to her and thank her for her work, instruction, and book. As a result of our email exchange I learned that there was one cancellation in her upcoming workshop, so I jumped at the opportunity to join the class. This was another reminder for me to thank people who you admire. Without reaching out to her, I may not have learned about the workshop opening.
I learned so much during that workshop. Kathleen and Donna were right there to critique my photos, give suggestions, and encourage me to experiment with new equipment. I took over 1,000 photos that week, many of which were okay, but some were spectacular, if I do say so myself. I also met some fun people who are passionate about flower photography. I learned as much from them as from the instructors.
Although I use many type of lenses, for the past year I have been experimenting with Lensbaby creative art lenses that produce some amazing effects. My first Lensbaby was the Velvet 56mm lens. Like all Lensbaby lenses, it is a manual lens, so the learning curve was steep for me. I remember after using it for some time, I took one of my zoom lenses out with auto focus and was shocked at how much easier it was to capture the image. But the effect that I could get from a Lensbaby kept pulling me back.
Over the years I have added to my gear with other more creative Lensbabies, such as the Velvet 85, the Sweet 50 & 80, Twist 60, and soon the Sweet 35. Every image is different and I feel like it is expressing my inner sense of the world.
I recently joined a closed group on Facebook called Lensbaby Unplugged with over 1,500 members from around the world. I have been so inspired by the images and approaches that these photographers are taking with their Lensbabys. It has encouraged me experiment, to push outside boundaries, to capture more creative images.
As I look to 2018, I know that I will prioritize learning as one of my most important goals. Although this applies to all parts of my life, it is especially true in my photography. In fact, I have a Sweet 35 arriving today, so I look forward to experimenting with it. I appreciate your comments, so please let me know how you keep learning fresh in your photography.