SelvaObscuraVI_2002_425

Selva Obscura, Jefferson, Maine, 2002

I had no intention of making this image; I had left my ‘real’ medium format film camera home and brought a then new digital DSLR, a technology in its infancy at the time, to photograph a new puppy I was bringing home with my family. The drive through the foggy February forests of Maine was beautiful and late in the day as we neared a series of orchards the light turned golden. I stopped with no thought other than to enjoy the moment, making a series of exposures, before continuing on.

While I liked the images I produced that evening, I had no intention of displaying them, until everyone in my studio strongly urged me to do so. Response to these images has continued to be very positive. This one has become one of my top sellers.

This work didn’t fit neatly into the ideas I’ve been developing in my work for decades. It doesn’t present a view of nature seemingly untouched by man. It’s not a wasteland, either devoid of or filled with water. It’s conventionally clear where the life is, in living organisms, drawing attention away from the idea that there might be a spirit in other kinds of things. It didn’t fit for this and other reasons. Yet it was somehow connected. These images lay down a challenge.

As I was describing this process to my workshop participants one day remarking, “I don’t do trees.” one woman remarked, “I don’t think you can say that any more.” Touche.  The next morning on my way to class as I considered this further, acknowledging that I had always loved orchards, tending them as a boy and now living in another one, and that I deeply appreciated gardens and agricultural areas and sacred sites where man worked in concert with nature, the phrase came to mind, “Perhaps Eden can be restored, if we give it half a chance.” It’s a thought that runs deep inside all of my work. It’s my hope that what I share will kindle a greater sense of wonder for the natural world and inspire people to participant in it creatively and conscientiously.

That was one of a handful of days where the mission behind my life’s work became clearer and this image played a central part in that process. It’s become an important outlier in my body of work, which I’ve learned a great deal from.

In response, I didn’t decide to go in a new direction. I held to my original course, bringing the work I had already begun to completion – now with a renewed sense of purpose.

What you do with feedback is up to you. I recommend that you seek a lot of feedback from a variety of sources. Know the source of the feedback you receive. Don’t forget to give yourself feedback, the most important source of all. Weigh it all carefully, but make the final choice your own. In the end, it’s your choice. It’s your life’s work. It’s your life. Make it count.

Questions

What is good enough? How do you know?

What isn’t good enough? How do you know?

What is too much?

What is perfectly imperfect?

Find out more about this image here.

View more related images here.

Read more The Stories Behind The Images here.


Secrets Of Big Success


Outliers


Why Some Succeed


Why Potential Is Squandered


Entrepreneurs

Gladwell’s books (The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, etc) are brilliant.

In these five videos he expands an what it takes to succeed, why only some succeed, and some consequences of success.

Find more creativity videos here.

Outliers

May 30, 2012 | Leave a Comment |

1

The image highlighted is an outlier. While the rest of the images are shot aerially looking down, it’s shot at ground level looking up. It won’t fit with the rest of the images until more images like it are completed to balance the set within the set.

Outliers. They’re the images that don’t fit neatly in a body of work. Outliers test the code of a style or body of work.

Widely divergent outliers, if they’re good but not great, often indicate a failure to move beyond conventional to more personal ways of seeing. If they’re great, they may represent a valuable new area for discovery or even a breakthrough.

Moderately divergent outliers may be just what you need to advance a body of work by providing one or more valuable variations on a theme, adding new energy and content into the mix. This is particularly true if just one thing is changed from the characteristics of the larger set (angle of view, range, duration, etc), as what changes calls attention to itself and questions are asked about how this change expands our understanding of the subject or artist’s intent.

If outliers are included for the wrong reasons (like you can’t put the image aside for now or find another context for it), they often disrupt the tone and continuity of a collection of images. This weakens the overall effect. This is the jack-of-all-trades master of none syndrome.

If outliers are included for the right reasons (they display a different but related theme or way of seeing the same subject and provide new avenues for going deeper with your subject and your relationship to it), they strengthen both other specific images within a set and the group as a whole as well.

On occasion one (rarely more) outlier can work within a body of work, when presented as a prelude (before), turning point (middle) or after thought (end), to suggest other as yet not fully resolved dimensions within a body of work. Use this strategy carefully, as outliers draw a lot of attention to themselves.

Pay attention to outliers. They’re your worst enemies. They’re your best friends.

See more images in this series on Google+.

Read more about Bodies Of Work and Developing Personal Projects here.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.


10,000 hours. The amount of time it takes to become an expert at something. That’s 40 hours a week for 250 weeks or 4.8 years. That’s what most people talk about when they talk about Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers : The Story of Success. But Gladwell goes much further than this. There are many other components to success. Culture. Family. Attitude. Receptivity. Flexibility. Versatility. Opportunity. Timing. Luck.

“Superstar lawyers and math whizzes and software entrepreneurs appear at first blush to lie outside ordinary experience. But they don’t. They are products of history and community, of opportunity and legacy. their success is not exceptional or mysterious. It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky – but all critical to making them who they are. The outlier, in the end, is not an outlier at all.”

He gives many great examples, told in his inimitable style, part social psychology, part mystery/thriller. Perhaps the most interesting is the final chapter, the story of his own personal family history. Including this is an interesting move, not just from a human interest point of view, not just from the history of race relations, but also that he unveils many of the elements of his success portraying it as an inherited legacy. He’s right, in part. And this does no disservice to his individual accomplishments. Implied in this final chapter is that Gladwell is exceptional. He is.

All of Gladwell’s books are brilliant. Outliers is very good. Tipping Point is truly great. Blink is amazing.

Find them here, along with other books I recommend.

Learn about success in creativity in my upcoming Creativity workshop.


Subscribe

Get the RSS Feed  

Subscribe by Email