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Plan Your Creative Success


Plan for success.
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I make those kinds of commitments at any time of year, whenever it becomes clear they’re necessary. But I do make plans at the beginning of every year. I review my Mission, Goals, Projects, and Actions lists. While I do this at the beginning of the year, this isn’t the only time I do it. I also do this every time I find something significant has changed in my life. Doing this helps me clarify where I want to go, make sure I’m on the path to getting there, outline the steps necessary to get there, and set realistic timelines. Doing this consistently has helped me more than double my productivity, in a meaningful way. It has also helped me make tough decisions when I’m faced with too many choices. It’s not that I didn’t have a life’s calling before I wrote my mission. It’s just that I wasn’t clear about it. Now I am. As a result, I feel personally empowered. To find my mission took a lot soul-searching, a little time, and it’s still a work in progress.
Make your plan.
Whether you’re engaged in your creative life professionally or simply as a vehicle for personal growth (an important distinction to make), I recommend you make a creative plan. If you do this, you too will find both your productivity and fulfillment will increase, in a way that’s meaningful to you. Having defined what you need to accomplish, your unconscious will go to the work of fulfilling it, generating many ideas over time. You’ll find yourself ready to make the most of unexpected opportunities as they arise. Put this all in writing using your own words. Writing increases retention 72%. If you write something down, you’ll be 75% more likely to take action on it. Remember, while other people can help you discuss and refine your plan as it develops, no one can do it for you. For you to truly understand and benefit from it, you have to do it. More importantly, for it to be right for you, it has to be yours.
Break it down into clear manageable pieces.
Set a mission (why you’re doing it), goals (what outcomes you want), projects (the big things you do)(set goals for 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 5 years, and end of life) and actions (the small steps you take to getting your projects done)(detail your 1 year next actions list) for your creative life. You’ll have one mission, several goals, many projects, and innumerable actions.
Many people use a metaphor of varying altitude to describe the relationship between these parts; the mission is cruising altitude where you see the big picture while the actions are on the runway where you see more specific details. Moving from why to how to what, the higher levels are inclusive of all the lower levels, while the lower levels point toward achieving the prime directive. The specific words you choose for the higher levels are often more important than the words you choose for the lower levels, so it’s likely you’ll revise them many times. As you drill down, the items get more concrete, specific, timely, and numerous. For this reason, many people find that the most difficult part of the plan to do is the simplest, least detailed, but most abstract portion – the mission. Some like to work bottom up, rather than top down, because they can sink their teeth into something more concrete. You can work it either or both ways – top down or bottom up.
However you get there, make sure that when you arrive that your mission really resonates within you and is something that you would consider an inner calling, not something generated out of today‘s particulars and practical realities. A mission should call you to a higher ground of your own choosing and activate new inner resources along the way. Many find that by aligning their efforts with something greater than themselves (i.e. service to others), they do better work and derive more satisfaction from it than they could have first imagined.

I review my past year’s progress before I set a new year’s projects and action lists. Over time, I’ve found I’ve become more realistic about how much to take on and how long it will take to get things done. (But don’t be afraid to dream big! Blue sky thinking is important for connecting with your deepest values.) I always find a few things on my list that have been postponed (and I ask why) and a few get dropped altogether – because I decided to prioritize even better opportunities along the way. I also find that things get added to my past year’s list that weren’t on it at the beginning of that year. It’s important to be open to new opportunities along the way. For that reason, I recommend you review your lists periodically, especially when new major projects are considered. You’ll find this process gets easier every time you do it. The first time you do it is always the hardest; it requires a lot of soul searching and some setting up; once you find your answers and you set up your system it’s much easier to do the next time. A plan is a work in progress. The best plans are be flexible and evolve over time as you grow your vision with new information and perspectives.

The plans you make are there to further your progress. But if you don’t make plans, life just happens and you may not make the time for the things that matter to you most. Make that time.

What plans will you make for your creative life?
Start now!
Read more in my free PDF ebook Make Plans.
Learn more about creative planning and goal setting here.
Learn more in my creativity and digital photography workshops.
David Allen does an excellent job of describing this process in his books Getting Things Done and Making It All Work. I highly recommend them. They changed the way I live my life. And they’ve helped me be even more effective and fulfilled. But don’t wait to read his books to get started! Just get started!

My Top 12 Images Of 2014

Alignment V

Alignment V

Alignment IV

Alignment IV

Antarctica CLXVI

Antarctica CLXVI

PS Manges Color, lighten, lighten shadows

Antarctica CLXXI

Antarctica CLXXII

Antarctica CLXXII

Constellation XI

Constellation XI

Constellation XII

Constellation XXI

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Contrail V

Contrail IV

Contrail IV

Antarctica CLXV

Antarctica CLXV

Incubation X

Incubation X

This is a selection of my top 12 images of all time. This selection doesn’t reflect sales, publication, or activities on the web. It simply reflects my opinion. Click on the titles to find out more about each image.

Geography
Antarctica, Argentina, Iceland, California
Process
I added something new to old projects; Antarctica and Constellation. I began moving forward on bringing a long-standing series to completion; Alignment. I released the first images from a new series Contrail that shows man’s marks in nature found in even the most remote places on earth; a complementary companion series of is soon to be released.
Concept
Similar themes echo throughout most of my individual series creating a shared network of connections. Alignment connects with Contrail and Refraction in different ways. Constellation connects with Correspondence in other ways. More connections are revealed over time.
Magnificent Moment
An hour and a half flying over Iceland’s south coast is magnificent but four hours of zodiac crusing in Antarctica’s Plenneau Bay (The Iceberg Graveyard) followed by three hours of dramatic light while passing through the La Mer Channel is even more magnificent.
It’s challenging to choose so few images from so many – but it’s insightful. Try selecting your own top 12 images. Try selecting the top 12 images of your favorite artist(s).

View more of my Annual Top 12 Selections here.

View more images in my ebooks here.

View my full Works here.

View my Series videos here.

View new images in my newsletter Collectors Alert.

My Creative Annual Review

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One of the things I do at the beginning of every year is review the accomplishments of the past year.
I take my projects list from the last year and color code it, assigning one color for done, one color for soon to be done, and another color for not done.
I want to know what happened. It feels great to see a list of everything that got done, especially when you get a significant surprise windfall. It can also be disappointing to see what didn’t get done, especially when the items that weren’t accomplished are important. Seeing it the items collected in one place is always revealing.
I want to do more than just see clearly what happened. I also want to know why things happened.
I find the vast majority of things that got done were things I identified as important and scheduled time for – wishing won’t make things happen. If something great and unexpected happened, I want to know why it happened, so I can make similar things happen again. If at the end of the year, I’ve completely rewritten my plan for the year, but it’s been substantially improved, I’m delighted.
If something important didn’t happen, I want to know why. I want to learn from my failures.  How many items are close to being done? (A calendar date can sometimes be arbitrary.)  Was something delayed for an important reason? Will the delay make it more successful? Did I not see the problem clearly? Were my expectations unreasonable? Did I not perform at peak? Did I overextend myself, taking on too many projects? Did I not allocate enough resources? Did I have the wrong team? Was the timing not right?  Did I get distracted? What I can do to avoid this in the future? How can this apply what I learned on one project to my other projects?
This yearly review helps me mentally consolidate everything I’ve accomplished and everything I’ve learned. Often, while I’m doing this review, I learn more things and find more ideas. At the end of the review, learn from my failures and repeat my successes. I want to know if I’m on track and moving forward toward my long term goals.
With those insights fresh on my mind, I make a new projects list for the next year.  (I copy last year’s list and delete everything that got done or is no longer relevant, add new items but be careful not to add an unrealistic number, and prioritize them.)
What plans will you make for your creative life now?
Learn more about creative planning and goal setting here.
Learn more in my creativity and digital photography workshops.

48 Quotes On Attitude

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Enjoy this collection of my favorite quotes on attitude.
“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” ― Marcus Aurelius
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become.” – Buddha
“Life is like a mirror and will reflect back to the thinker what he thinks into it.” – Ernest Holmes
“The state of your life is nothing more than a reflection of your state of mind.” – Dr Wayne W. Dyer
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” ― Winston S. Churchill
“Attitude is everything.” – Diane von Furstenberg
“Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.” ― Irving Berlin
“It’s not what happens to you that determines how far you will go in life; it is how you handle what happens to you.” – Zig Ziglar
“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.” – Khalil Gibran
“The greatest discovery of my generation is that man can alter his life simply by altering his attitude of mind.” – William James
“It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect It’s successful outcome.” – William James
“Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude toward it, for that determines our success or failure. The way you thing about a fact may defeat you before you ever do anything about it. You are overcome by the fact because you think you are.” – Norman Vincent Peale
“Attitudes are nothing more than habits of thoughts, and habits can be acquired. An action repeated becomes an attitude realized.” – Paul Myer
“People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.” – John C. Maxwell
“Our attitude towards others determines their attitude towards us.” – Earl Nightingale
“We awaken in others the same attitude of mind we hold toward them.” – Elbert Hubbard
“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.” – William James
“Weakness of attitude becomes weakness of character.” – Albert Einstein
“Most of the shadows of life are caused by standing in our own sunshine.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The optimist sees opportunity in every danger; the pessimist sees danger in every opportunity.” Winston Churchill
“I’ve always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative.” – Sugar Ray Robinson
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.” – Henry Ford
“Some men have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all they need is one reason why they can.” – Willis Whitney
“They can because they think they can.” – Virgil
“If you believe you can, you probably can. If you believe you won’t, you most assuredly won’t. Belief is the ignition switch that gets you off the launching pad.” – Denis Waitley
“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you’re not, pretend you are.” – Muhammad Ali
“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” – Lou Holtz
“Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” – Ralph Marston
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” – Zig Ziglar
“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out” – John Wooden
“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” – Colin Powell
“For success, attitude is equally as important as ability.” – Walter Scott
“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” – Brian Tracy
“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” – Mary Engelbreit
“Take the attitude of a student, never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.” – Og Mandino
“A child’s attitude toward everything is an artist’s attitude.” – Willa Cather
“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” – George Santayana
“Humor prevents a hardening of the attitudes.” – Joel Goodman
“Our minds can shape the way a thing will be because we act according to our expectations.” – Federico Fellini
“A positive attitude can really make dreams come true – it did for me.” – David Bailey
“The meaning of things lies not in the things themselves, but in our attitude towards them.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor E. Frankl
“Take charge of your attitude. Don’t let someone else choose it for you.” – Anonymous
“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus
“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.” – John C. Maxwell
“Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.” – Irving Berlin
“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Find more quotes in The Essential List Of Creativity Quotes.

These eBooks Make Great Last Minute Christmas Gifts

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For an inspiring glimpse into the past and the future of photography see Two Generations.

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For an exotic trip to a remote location try Antarctica Two Visions.

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For deep insights into the creative process read Process.

These ebooks make great gifts – and you can get and give them instantaneously.
Get deep discounts when you subscribe to my free enews Insights.
Insights members – check past issues for your discount codes.

46 Quotes From Jay Maisel's Book Light, Gesture, Color

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Photographer Jay Maisel’s book Light, Gesture & Color is full of pithy wisdom about the art of seeing.
Here’s a selection of highlights.
“If you’re not your own severest critic, you are your own worst enemy.” – Jay Maisel
“The whole world is there for you. Gifts will happen, but only if you are patient with life itself, the shooting process, and your own limitations.” – Jay Maisel
“There is no bad light. There is spectacular light and difficult light. It’s up to you to use the light you have.” – Jay Maisel
“The drama of light exists not only in what is in the light, but also in what is left dark. If the light is everywhere, the drama is gone.” – Jay Maisel
“Gesture will survive whatever kind of light you have. Gesture can triumph over anything because of its narrative content.” – Jay Maisel
“We have always wanted to find the ‘it-ness’ of anything we shoot. We want to get as deep into the subject as we can.” – Jay Maisel
“You will, in time, see and show others not just the superficial, but the details, the meanings, and the implications of all that you look at …”  – Jay Maisel
“One color alone means nothing. I acts as in a vacuum, with no other colors to relate to. It is only when colors relate to other colors that the fun begins.” – Jay Maisel
“Color is seductive. It changes as it interacts with other colors, it changes because of the light falling upon it, and it changes as it becomes larger in size.” – Jay Maisel
“You cannot accurately remember color …”  – Jay Maisel
“’Color’ is quite different from ‘colors.’ In an image with many colors, we find that all the colors compete with each other rather than interacting with each other. The results” colors.” – Jay Maisel
“There really isn’t anything that you could call ‘bad’ color. It all has to do with the amount of color you use and in what context it appears.” – Jay Maisel
“Some have said that if you take a great picture in color and take away the color, you’ll have a great black-and-white picture. But if you’re shooting something about color and you take away the color, you’ll have nothing.” – Jay Maisel
“What you’re shooting at doesn’t matter, the real question is: ‘Does it give you joy?’” – Jay Maisel
“Always shoot it now. It won’t be the same when you go back.” – Jay Maisel
“You must not think of yourself as looking at the stage from the audience. You must think of it as theatre in the round and look at it from all sides.” – Jay Maisel
“We don’t experience light, color, and gesture in a vacuum. We experience it in contexts.” – Jay Maisel
“If you don’t have a camera, the best thing you can do is describe how great it looked.” – Jay Maisel
“It’s a lot easier to take pictures if you always have the camera with you.” – Jay Maisel
“There is no one solution to all problems. It’s the problem itself that can lead to the solution.” – Jay Maisel
“It’s not just when you shoot, or what you shot, or where you shoot, it’s the combination of the three.” – Jay Maisel
“The more light you have in an image, the less drama you get. The details start taking over; the mystery is all gone.” – Jay Maisel
“I love when pictures ask questions or make others ask questions.” – Jay Maisel
“The pictures are everywhere. If you’re open, they will find you.” – Jay Maisel
“Sometimes without shooting a picture germinates in your head. Other times, you keep taking pictures of the same thing and watch the images mature and grow.” – Jay Maisel
“As you see something that yo want to shot and it’s bearing down on you, it’s important to start framing long before the subject gets close to you. The light will reveal itself possibly long before you want to take the image, but you have to wait until the picture comes to you, and if you’ve been anticipating carefully when the subject will be in position, the background will have been figured out in advance.” – Jay Maisel
“Since the background is as important as the subject, you mustn’t let it default by chance. You must control not only vertical and horizontal, you must be aware of the depth of field (or lack of it) that you want in the background.” – Jay Maisel
“Remember that most people (those who are not photographers) don’t even see the things that you missed. Many don’t even look. Ergo, you are way ahead of the game.” – Jay Maisel
“Gesture is not always action.” – Jay Maisel
“It’s my obligation to take out all the ‘wrong’ pictures.” – Jay Maisel
“You have to pick the right tool for the point you’re trying to make and there is no one solution.” – Jay Maisel
“The problem suggests the solution.” – Jay Maisel
“Sometimes as you work, you find that you are learning things about your own perceptions and motivations that are way below you consciousness. If you get lucky, you recognize what you are doing, but all too often we don’t find the connection between our work and our own motivations.” – Jay Maisel
“The awareness of the quality of space in out photos is akin to our awareness of the very air in our photos, the atmosphere that pervades every square inch of our image and yet is often invisible to the photographer.” – Jay Maisel
“When we are given gifts, we must be quick and able to accept them.” – Jay Maisel
“I try not to tell students where to shoot, when to shoot, or what to shoot. I feel finding the picture is the most important part of being a photographer. The actual shooting is of lesser importance.” – Jay Maisel
“You need minimum color for maximum effect.” – Jay Maisel
“Always wait for the trigger. The trigger is the final part of the puzzle, the reason you want to shoot.” – Jay Maisel
“Color really doesn’t have interaction if it’s full of colors. It’s the interaction or relationship among or between colors that makes a color image. This usually happens with a few colors, not a glut of them.” – Jay Maisel
“Forget what it was. Look at what it is.” – Jay Maisel
“You have to learn not only from your failures. You must also learn from your successes.” – Jay Maisel
“You have to let the past successes go, or you’ll never be able to see anew.” – Jay Maisel
“Don’t overthink things in front of you. I fit moves you, shoot it. If it’s fun, shoot it. If you’ve never seen it before, shoot it.” – Jay Maisel
“Had I not been told to look, I would have quite, ignorant of what was really there, because I had ‘made plans’ and was wearing visual and emotional blinders that limited my perceptions and my vision.” – Jay Maisel
“All these factors are only valuable if you’re curious. But in any case, the more knowledge you have, the more things are open and available to you.” – Jay Maisel
“You sort of have to be always aware, even when you’re not thinking of shooting. That’s when the best stuff happens.” – Jay Maisel
“When you shoot, that is opportunity number one to make a statement. When you edit, you have opportunity number two to make your statement. It could be an affirmation of your first choice or could go off in another direction.” – Jay Maisel
“Keep your mind open. You may very well learn something new about yourself and your pictures.” – Jay Maisel
“You must be open to what otherwise may seem to be a detriment to your ‘plans’.” – Jay Maisel
“You always end up with too many pictures to edit and too few that you feel ‘got it’.” – Jay Maisel
“It’s important to realize that the images are everywhere, not just where you want or expect them to be.” – Jay Maisel
“You can’t just turn on when something happens, you have to be turned on all the time. Then things happen.” – Jay Maisel
“Money and fame that photography can bring you are wonderful, but nothing can compare to the joy of seeing something new.” – Jay Maisel
Of course, all of these insights are made even better when paired with his images.
Find the book Light, Gesture & Color here.
Find out more about Jay Maisel here.
Read 20 Questions With Jay Maisel here.
Read more quotes by Jay Maisel here.
Browse my Essential Collection of Photographer’s Quotes here.

Alumnus Jerry Grasso Featured In LensWork Magazine

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Alumni Jerry Grasso’s photographs are featured in the current issue of LensWork magazine. It’s a dream come true for him. Congratulations Jerry!

“One of my “bucket list” items was to be published in what I consider to be one of the most prestigious magazines dedicated to the promotion of fine art photography in the world today: LensWork Magazine. I have been a subscriber since 2004. In fact, I credit the podcasts of editor Brooks Jensen as one of the early influences on my artistic training. There are so many great, brief articles related to photography; more than enough food for thought.

I am humbled and honored to say that my series, “Moorish Influences”, has been accepted and will appear in the December issue #115 of LensWork. My interview and images will also appear on the Extended Edition dvd. And, one of my images even made the cover of the issue!

This series is an exploration of the progression of the impact the Moors had on Spanish architecture from 711AD to 1492AD. This impact can best be described as ordered repletions, radiating structures, and rhythmic metric patterns. These designs captured in my work are based in spirituality. The Islamic view of the world in general emphasizes and symbolizes the infinite nature of the one God. For them, there was an infinite pattern of forms that extend beyond the world and symbolizes the infinite essence of God.

I would like to thank John Paul for his training, guidance and support over the years. Also, I would like to thank my fellow Next Steppers for their encouragement and artistic suggestions that have helped me solidify my goals and techniques.

My dedicated perseverance and determination continues to sustain my passion and my vision. I look forward to my continued growth as I explore new projects and experiment with new visions. And thanks for indulging me in my moment of success!”

Order your copy here.

View Jerry’s statement here.

Find out more about Jerry Grasso here.

Photoshop’s Match Color May Change The Way You Think & See

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 How was this effect created? See the illustrations below.

Little explored and capable of opening up whole new frontiers in color adjustment, Photoshop’s Match Color is a tool every user should be aware of, even if it’s only to know what’s possible.
There are three primary reasons to consider using Match Color.
1  – Match two colors exactly.  
(Match the color of one object to another.)
2  – Remove strong color casts.    
(It’s great for neutralizing underwater casts.)
3  – Creatively apply the color in one image to another.
(This will blow your mind!)
A few tips will help you make the most of this fascinating tool …
Read the rest of this post on Digital Photo Pro.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.
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Original

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 New colors

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Tool used