by Skip Cohen
This morning I was looking for some old images of my mother to share with my Dad. In the process I found a group shot of all of us together last Thanksgiving. Good friends, Bob and Holly Coates were in Sarasota on vacation then and joined us.
The image is just a self-timer group shot. It'll never win an award for group portraiture, but it would win an award for all the great memories it brings back.
Okay, so there's a segue here that might be hard to follow, but that's what Sundays are all about. This image got me thinking about great images and in turn education and it got me thinking about what Bob is doing in photography now.
Our home is like a gallery, filled with prints that span my entire career, including one of Bob's. Bob has always worked hard to stay cutting edge, but part of the process is experimenting with new techniques. Like all great photographers he recognizes the importance of a never-ending focus on his own education. He also believes in personal projects to help keep his passion for the craft alive and well, no matter what he's shooting day in day out for his business.
I've written so much about the importance of personal projects, never compromising on quality, listening to your heart and expanding your skill set. Bob's images this morning are just one example of a quality that's a common denominator with so many of the people we consider iconic in our industry...he never stops learning and pushing the edge of the creative envelope.Image copyright Bob Coates. All Rights Reserved.
I wanted to share some of his images with you in this post, first, because they're stunning and some of my favorites. Second, they take me to the topic of education and the fact that you can never stop learning.
Even Ansel Adams had thoughts about his own work and how technology would change things. I'm paraphrasing a lot, but in '84 Ansel made a comment about "wondering what people will be able to do with his negatives electronically in twenty years!"
So, here's the real point this morning - as you look at your own portfolio are you producing images that are truly great? Can you look back at a year or two of your images and see your growth in the craft? Do your images represent a continuous expansion of your skill set? What will people say about your images years from now? Most important of all, every time you click the shutter are you keeping your dream alive?
Motivational writer Jack Canfield wrote,
I'm a big believer in growth. Life is not about achievement, it's about learning and growth, and developing qualities like compassion, patience, perseverance, love, and joy, and so forth. And so if that is the case, then I think our goals should include something which stretches us.
And one more that hits home from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg:
Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.