Finding our Photography Focus for 2023

being more creative creativity & photography landscape photography thoughts Jan 07, 2023

Each year I start the year with a single word that kind of becomes a mantra.  I’d like to think this gives me some focus for the year.   My word for 2022 was harvest as I looked to harvest some of the benefits in my life, I had been working really hard to actualize.  For 2023 my word is REFINE.  To refine is to “improve (something) by making small changes, in particular make (an idea, theory, or method) more subtle and accurate.”

I was extremely fortunate to end 2022 with a truly once in a lifetime experience of spending 17 days at sea (and on land) in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island, and Antarctica.  There are pages and pages of written reflections to match the thousands of images I made as I experienced a landscape that cannot easily be described or captured.   One of the benefits of the entire trip, was that I chose to not have any connection with the outside world for the entire trip as I disconnected.  Right as I was turning off all internet access I read a book that was recommended to me by Guy Tal called Stolen Focus.

Stolen Focus challenges many of the assumptions we have made as a digital society as we often unknowingly have faced an increasing number of distractions which in part of have taken away from our ability to reach depth.

“What we are sacrificing is depth in all sorts of dimensions … . Depth takes time . And depth takes reflection . If you have to keep up with everything and send emails all the time , there’s no time to reach depth .”  Johann Hari, Stolen Focus

Referencing leading researchers from all over the world about how social media and other technology companies have intentionally worked to gather your attention repeatedly through very targeted psychology practices designed to keep you engaged with their products and in part for us to derive significance and meaning.   Consider that in 2017 the average American spent 5.4 hours on their phone and less than 17 minutes reading a book.

If you have found yourself struggling to focus, find yourself continually distracted, have a constant feeling of diminishment, this might be worth a read.  For me as I stared at penguins, daydreamed, freed myself of ruminating thoughts, I found myself more open to digest more of what was occurring around and within me.  By not flooding my system with more information I didn’t find that I was needing the distractions of a text message, email, or news story.  I directed my attention into being present with my wife, immersed into the landscape, or simply lost in thought and making sense of the world in a new way.

For me this is not a crusade, not a matter of right or wrong, what you should or shouldn't be doing, whose fault it might be.  It was about honest reflection in the ways that I choose to engage, distract, and disengage.  I guess you could say I was refining my focus.  Finding a new level of depth.  Readying myself for 2023.   

What are you getting ready for in 2023?


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