Last night, I watched a video presentation* about landscape photography. There were many great thoughts that I certainly consider beneficial for me to consider as a photographer. Some is a little boring with how basic it is - but always good to remind myself of the fundamentals. Some I knew (and can actually say that I've been attempting to apply) intuitively and is encouraging to me that I've been on the right track. Other ideas totally make sense as I think about them; and leave me itching to test them out...
One of the greatest takeaways is something that I can't help but doing in any field of my artistry: Never settle for a good shot; a great shot is there if you look for it. I know I often can drive my friends and colleagues nuts with my constant unrest as I search for the greatest degree of beauty. It's inherent to my personality and strength mix I think - an "unconscious competency" is a term that may be applied. Well, the presenter spent some time in the middle of the presentation discussing shot composition and I couldn't help but hear brilliant articulation of what I strive for in every artistic discipline I am involved in. Never settle for a good [mix or lighting look, or typeface, or whatever] but keep experimenting through rehearsal and find the great.
I'm often asked (actually more and more, I am blessed to be hired as a consultant for) my thoughts for how I approach production design. If you have been around me for a while, you have probably heard me talk about the "2° and the 2%". I am most concerned with the beginning of an idea - where there's the opportunity to point the concept in the exact direction where I see it having the greatest opportunity of becoming something amazing. This is the vision and the design stage. If you start the project in the right direction, you'll succeed more often than not. 2° of difference in compass bearing may not seem like much in the short term, but it can be miles away from the ideal finish line when it's time to open doors...
I also am charged up by the opportunity to finesse the final tweaks that give the magical touch. This is the 2%. It's the difference between good enough and inspiring; the difference between bland and profound. I'm often cited as having the eye for it. Perhaps I do have a special aptitude for the artistry of seeing what works and where an improvement could be made. However, I believe most of it is my work ethic. I hate settling for less than excellent. Excellence is making the most of our resources. If we have more time to give, we should use it to make the product better.
The analogys of "taking in the scene" and "seeing the light" are so great. We all have the potential to create something amazing. What resources do we have? How can they be focused on to help tell the story that is there? See the potential and figure out the best strategy for highlighting it. Then, never settle for a good [mix or lighting look, or typeface, or whatever] but keep experimenting through rehearsal and find the great.
I was actually running sound last night and one of my students asked me during run-through, "it sounds amazing, why are you continuing to make adjustments?" Two reasons: First, it's live audio; therefore the variables are always changing. The mix engineer has to constantly stay focused on how to best reinforce what's coming from stage. Second, if I'm going to be in the chair during a rehearsal regardless, why settle for a B+ when I could find the tweak that takes it to an A- or perhaps even an A? To me, the idea of settling for mediocrity is detestable. If you're going to be involved, be all there... Anyway, the difference between some of the really good photos and their amazing counterparts are the patience and persistence exhibited by the photographer who is disciplined enough to pursue capturing the epic image that we want to hang on our walls.
*The entire video was really good:
40-45min is the location that inspired this post.