finding my focus.

Updated: Feb 16, 2019

For the past three years, I've owned a fancy camera. You know, the kind with interchangeable lenses and lots of buttons? I sort of hoped that, for the money, it would come with automatic understanding of how photography works. Alas, it did not.

I've tried reading the tutorials, but the minute I start reading words like aperture and focal length, my eyes glaze over. I have picked the brain of my professional photographer friend so often that she probably wants to throw her iPhone across the room when she sees it's me texting again. And I have practiced, and practiced, and practiced some more. Finally, I developed a technique of my own that is practically fool proof. Want to know what it is?

I take 4,739,372 pictures, and hope that one or two of them come out with some potential, and then I edit, edit, edit.

Now, I don't always need to edit. Once in a while, the picture that comes out is exactly the image I had in mind. Like my friend with the goggles up there. That image is exactly what I wanted to capture and how I wanted to capture it.

Usually that is not the case, though. I might capture the image I want, but the exposure is too dark, or too bright. Or the exposure is right but the subject is too far away, or off center. Often there is still work to do to the photo before the final product matches the image I was seeking in my head.

My writing is like this too. I have an idea of what I want to say, the essence of a post or a story, but I can't bring it into focus right away. So I write more and more and more words, hoping somewhere along the way to stumble across a sentence that flows, one where my heart pours out through my fingers, into the keyboard onto the page. Once in a while it happens, and it is magic. More often than not, though, I have to go back and find the sentences that have the most potential, and then edit, edit and edit some more.

This is the adulting of the creative world. While child-like wonder is requisite for initiating the creative process, we must also parent our art - guide it, mold it and maneuver it into position. It's not always going to flow. Not every effort will result in a masterpiece worthy of a coveted spot on the refrigerator door. Art is joy, but it is also work. Sometimes hours, or even years, of work - for one short story, one magazine article, one painting, one website, or one perfect photograph taken at the right time, with the right angle, in the right location and of the right subject.

This is the role of the artist. Parent and child all in one. Student and teacher, master and slave. It is a beautiful paradox, wouldn't you say?

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