Do you remember the first time you tried Krispy Kreme donuts and how good they tasted? But, then the second, third, and fourth times you ate them, it didn’t live up to the same experience. Maybe you’re too young to have had that experience. How about the first time you created a silhouette? Or the first time you succeeded in using off-camera flash?
I remember these moments well. I could give you a tour of that place and blurt out all of the details. I remember the excitement of discovering something new that I could do with my equipment. I remember the first time reflecting the sky. I remember the first time layering. I remember the first time capturing a truly authentic moment.
As human beings, we LOVE this novelty. We love discovering new things. We love eating new foods. We love new clothes. We love new artwork. New. New. New. We are wired to like new things. Not necessarily because of the thing itself, but because of how it makes us feel.
So we chase new things often in order to feel excited again and again. This is one of the major reasons that our society is so consumeristic. It’s no different in photography. It is why, I am sure, half the people sign up for our workshop. They’re bored with their work and they want to try something new. Something new that will get them excited about their work again.
But, there is an inherent flaw with this mindset, especially when it’s unconscious, which is most of the time: We mistake this excitement of something new for passion and interest. We think our passion for photography is related to these new discoveries. And, once we’ve discovered all the new things, we start searching for that next new thing we can discover and do. It’s kind of like an addiction. We bring out the prisms. We bring out the flashes. We bring out the reflective surfaces in order to get that next hit of something new.
So we’re chasing a feeling, which can be fun. But, big BUT here, in the long term at least, this is unsustainable.
It’s like wanting to stay in the infatuation or honeymoon phase with your lover. It would be great theoretically, but it’s not going to happen. And, in fact, the next stage of your relationship is going to be, in some ways, much more beautiful and deep than that infatuation stage.
Does this mean we should stop chasing new things? Definitely not. But, we have to do it with the right intentions. We can’t chase it just for the rush of those new feelings. That feeling isn’t our passion, despite our misconception that it is. Passion is much deeper and far less superficial. True passion has nothing to do with the way you operate your camera (that’s called craft).
Chasing excitement will distract you from the real goal: Chasing mastery. THAT will take you farther and deeper into your own growth and development. It’s easy to confuse them. But, stay focused on what comes after the honeymoon phase. Chase the wisdom, not the feeling.
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