Recently I was reminded about a superb life-guiding tool I had training in when I worked in the corporate world; The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. For those unfamiliar with it, it is a well-rounded approach to life and to creating a work-life balance that sets priorities on those things that are important and recognizing the things that are not.
Most of us are quite busy and struggle to fit photography into our daily lives so developing some solid habits that contribute to your growth as a digital artist will be beneficial. We all have choices on how our time is spent and the more that we use that time pro-actively versus re-actively helps us become more productive.
Franklin Covey offers an excellent 7 Habits Workbook that helps you to identify what is important to you and how to guide your activities towards your personal and professional values. So how does this transfer to guiding you in becoming a more effective photographer?
Once you begin setting photography as part of your routine, hopefully daily if not weekly, it will become more second nature for you. Developing the habit of going out on a photographic outing with purpose will lead to a dramatic improvement in the quality of your images.
HABIT 1: BE PROACTIVE
First, by becoming Proactive you will determine what you would like to achieve and can begin setting goals for yourself. Whether it be mastering your camera, or becoming more proficient in post-processing. By being a proactive photographer your objective should be becoming highly effective in both of these skills. This is achieved by lots of practice.
Recently listening to Art Wolfe, I heard him say that he threw away the first ten years of his photographic work as that was his learning period. Just imagine that!
HABIT 2: BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
Once you’ve become skilled with your camera and can instinctively know what camera settings and equipment you will need to capture the image you want, you can then imagine what post-processing can do or how the image will look like before you even click the shutter button.
HABIT 3: PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST
Here is where you would place photography as an important part of your life. Set time aside on a regular basis to make sure you work on your craft. Daily would catapult your photography skills significantly. Weekly at minimum should be done. It doesn’t have to be complicated or overly time consuming. Just make sure you get your camera in your hand on a frequent and regular basis and use it! Try each and every lens you have in your kit so you become well versed with it.
HABIT 4: THINK WIN-WIN
Remember that we all learn from each other and becoming part of a group with like-minded photographers will help you. Take the time to study and learn from other photographers and in kind comment and share what you’ve learned as well. There are plenty of groups on Facebook and Flickr which you can join and learn from others.
HABIT 5: SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD
Quiet the urge to formulate answers to others while they are still talking. Take the time to listen and observe other successful photographers and learn from them. The more you keep an open and objective mind, the more you will hear. Once you begin to understand how other photographers develop their “voice” you can then begin to develop your own.
HABIT 6: SYNERGIZE
There are times when we are most creative alone. But there are many times that creativity can grow when we are in the presence of others. Search out social groups that you can join and meet for a photography outing. Take a look at local photography groups in your area.
HABIT 7: SHARPEN THE SAW
Become a life-long learner and know that as a photographer there is always something to learn. The possibilities are endless of what you can learn and where you can learn it from. Take photography classes from a local company that offers short sessions like the one I teach with Capital Photography Center. The local community college is a great source of courses, and if you like to read and see images in print, countless photography books are available on Amazon.
I’d venture to say that many of us have picked up a camera because we thought it would be fun and a wonderful hobby that could grow to something more. We certainly have the desire to do well with our craft, so it would only make sense if we increase our knowledge of the aspects of photography and develop the skill to achieve what we envision.