"Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside dreams. Who looks inside awakens." Carl Jung
At a recent arts festival I spent some time with a fellow artist talking of our “Dreams of Glory”. That we will create and inspire ourselves to new artworks, that the world of art patrons and collectors will discover and cherish our worlds of wonder, that tomorrow we will devise and bring to fruition another masterpiece in our never ending quests of bringing forth our inner emotions, feelings, wonderment and stories.
Since that conversation I have had a chance to reflect on such Dreams of Glory.
As the world of photographic artworks has evolved since at least the turn of the century, striving to pursue this dream has followed a path of ever unfolding progressions.
From these earlier days and eventually 10,000 hours and now beyond, the capacity to develop muscle memory for the diverse and complex technical aspects of the photographic world required continual and constant education developing these skills until an intuition with near automatic reflexes took hold. Slowly the capacity to understand the proper adjustments and make quick decisions as a composition before me required a need to understand the visual imagery and internalize the personal “statement” of each composition while extracting the proper technical settings necessary to achieve this, often in conditions requiring precision under duress and implementing these with very little mental distractions while completing the necessary menus, buttons, settings, parameters, lighting, point of view and so many visual elements being construed into the artistic realm.
As this expertise slowly yet ultimately found its place in the relevant mental knowledge base, new perceptual constructs arose needing attention.
An awareness arises early on that our compositional talents are woefully lacking, based on our new found education that begins to sink in. Having parsed this several times before it is only now that a slight comprehension begins to reveal the forest for the trees. One often wonderfully asks how can this be but, like visual elements and awareness, this only reveals itself when the mind has advanced to acceptance and our own internal constructs are ready.
Now, so many studies related to understanding the creation of a personal environment that fosters a creative mentality later……
Another 10,000 hours of compositional development, one develops this intuition. Intuition being that we are exposed over and over and over until the synapses fire automatically given certain situations.
So what seems intuition when setting up compositions is really an innate mental development that near seamlessly understands the complexities of each new scene, a proper (or personal style) approach to some conclusiveness towards an intended outcome while remaining a bit aloof as our awareness continues to wring new approaches for evaluation.
Here I find it interesting when capturing a scene, and looking around for potential other compositions, as to my mental state and how I approach these, seemingly automatically, yet with a sense that maybe I’m not totally aware of each current and new found vision that develops within me. Here I feel continual development and assessments are necessary to maintain forward progression. Reflections, both during and in post, register understandings and better awareness of the process.
At long last, we have these images captured, downloaded, cataloged, keyworded, backed up and ready to begin evaluations of compositions.
Starting in a fresh mental state, I approach each selected composition and develop any newfound revelations while parsing the image at considerable magnification and assessing the flaws that may not have been apparent during capture. Again, with lots of experience and continual practice, lesser issues arise as the intuition at capture continues to evolve based on the many post capture evaluations and the ensuing awareness of past defects. Slowly any new found failings are lessened in their degree of negative severity to the intended creative intent.
Now another avenue of required skills takes hold. Two decades of digital photography and the vastness and complexities of computer-based dexterity intrudes on our soul.
These never-ending, ever evolving capabilities can bear significant burdens on the creative spirit. This effort is probably more in the realm of 20,000 hours to be comfortable while requiring continued ongoing effort each week, month and year to assimilate, evaluate, master and cast aside. Here, after so much time spent in the past doing these activities over the long haul, one begins to develop new intuitions based on this that potentially helps streamline the evaluations and decisions if new advances are in fact advances and where they might fit into our creative intent’s workflow.
We stare at our calibrated screen and peer into the newly captured compositions. Once we select a potential candidate that we deem worthy of a post processing session we need to continue our assessment of the necessary areas that need attention to bring this vision to our mastered conclusion.
At this point we might stop and consider the amount of effort and mental tenacity required just to have this composition staring back at us on the screen.
Our subjective influences to this point require evaluation before continuing. What was our intent, our vision, our story, the emotions this composition emotes. How did we develop the technical aspects of capture that lay before us? These reflections, thoughts, feelings and remembrances often are instilled in our perception as we begin parsing the image on the screen.
Here, creative intent should try to coalesce not only that which has gone before but also what is required with the technical skills I have presently to coax a master print from it.
My creative intent defines a road map for how my master print copy of this image should be distilled? This is often an iterative process to arrive at this refinement. Many times sequential masters are made over time, generally as new programmatic advances or personal skill sets improve or advancements in many related areas.
Post processing is yet another aspect of required mastery and is ongoing and never-ending yet requires some base level of talent to both understand the needs of the image and our skills at being able to render this understanding into our master print.
A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work." Colin Powell
So, 40,000 hours later, ongoing and never ending. A quick calculation of this effort at 40 hours per week tells us that we are near 20 years attaining sufficient and credible mastery achieving our “Dreams of Glory”.