In my business which is Photography, every once in a while it’s good to get back to basics. Get back to your roots, your foundation if you will, so you can get a better perspective on where you’re at now. Are you any better? Has your technique improved? Are you still seeing the shots you saw when all this was new, or are you starting to lose touch a little. Getting a little stale.
Hopefully you’ve improved. Technical skill should definitely be better. You got new and improved gear that is technically superior to what you were using back in the beginning. Post processing should be way up too. The software has been improved to the point of being magic. But the big thing is, and what is the single most important skill a photographer has, is, has your eye improved. Are you seeing things in a new way after years of experience, or are you still shooting the same way you did when you first started. Retaining a lot of the enthusiasm and developing the style you began in the beginning is ok but has your vision clarified and increased your ability to capture what you’re seeing in a better way. Are your pictures working better. These are the questions I ask myself when I go back to basics.
The difference in your early work, and is it better, is when you showed someone your images then and they said “Oh, cool. Where’d you see that?” and when they see one of your images now and say “Oh man, Unbelievable. That is incredible.” I like to hear the second one best. I don’t always get it but I get it a lot more than I used to. One hopes that indicates progress.
The shot above is one of my earliest images taken in Yellowstone way back when digital cameras were still diesel-powered. I like to think it still works. I refer back to this time period a lot because it was a time of greatest excitement for me, everything was new. I couldn’t turn around without taking a zillion photos. I literally shot thousands and thousands of images then, while terrified I was going to miss something and not get it recorded. The gear was less sophisticated, as was the software, and everything revolved around your eye, what would make a compelling image, what would be a unique view that the observer of my work would see for the first time as I did. The view finder was everything.
The jury is still out on my improvement percentage. I like to think I still see things the casual observer misses. I still get goose bumps when I see an image that really works and I realize that I created it. So I have decided there is nothing more for me to do but keep shooting, keep learning, keep seeing. Maybe one day I’ll know for sure what my status is. Until then I can keep referring to what I’ve done in the past and hope for the best.