Monday, April 7, 2014

100 - More Signal, Less Noise

I am 100 days into this 365 project. It's been an interesting and enlightening experience. Along the way, I've learned a number of technical things about lighting and exposure and composition. Just forcing a camera into my hands every day has sharpened my skills. I've also learned things about myself like, if under the gun, I can produce creatively. That's incredibly empowering!

And I've taken some pictures in this project that I'm really proud of.

But.  There's always a but.

The problem is I just don't have the free time required to come up with a shot of which I can be proud every single day. All too often, after the kids are in bed, I scramble to take a photo in the remaining hours of the day. As a result, I've developed some creative crutches that I've abused to get the shot out. Some of my pictures fall short in both concept and execution. I learn nothing from these and they turn this project into work of the tedious and unenjoyable kind. Most of all, I hate that they've diluted the quality of my online work - the stuff by which people form opinions about my photography. In my life - whether it's mowing lawns, making music, programming computers, marketing products, or taking pictures - I've never been happy working on something unless I feel like it's genuinely good. And too often in this 365 I've not been able to do that.

Worse, this project is competing for time with other projects that I desperately need to complete - like finishing off my guitar photos, building a new web site with e-commerce, or putting together my photography book from 2013.  I've learned a lot doing the 365, but I'm forced to admit that the cost/benefit of continuing is no longer in my favor.

Now, I hate quitting things. Always have, always will. I'm wired that way. But continuing to do something just for the sake of completion, at the expense of other opportunities that have a much higher pay-off is irrational and counter-productive. From an economist's perspective, the "sunk costs" (in my case, the time investment I've already made in the 365) are not relevant factors to consider in decisions regarding current options (whether or not to continue the 365 or invest the time in something else). This runs counter to what we're taught as children, and what we teach our children ("Winners never quit and quitters never win!"). But it is true that knowing why and when to quit, and acting upon it decisively, actually helps you be more successful by opening opportunities that could otherwise not be explored. (I struggle with that concept, but this podcast really helped.)

So, I sincerely thank you for paying attention to my little project and I apologize for ending this prematurely. But it's the right thing to do. I will of course be posting tons more photos at my regular site, but I will go back to my old way of just posting the pictures that I believe in and for which I don't have to feel apologetic.

More signal, less noise.

Love you guys, David

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