Years ago when I lived in Michigan and trained in the martial arts, the students in our dojo had a tradition. Every New Year’s Day we would meet at the dojo and have a special class, training between two to four hours. Afterwards, we’d have a small celebration with some good food and drinks. The point of the class was twofold: 1) to reinforce discipline by making ourselves get up and go to class when we had been up late the night before, and 2) to reaffirm our dedication to studying and mastering something we all held dear.
It’s been a long time since I’ve gone out early on New Year’s Day to swing a Bo staff around, and I'm reasonably sure that if I did that here in southern California someone would call the police on me. These days, I like to go out with my camera and spend some time shooting. On some occasions I have been able to drag my weary body up into the mountains to catch the first sunrise of the new year. Other times I just go out and look for anything that I find interesting. The goal of the exercise is not photographing any particular thing, nor photographing for a particular amount of time. It’s simply to make myself go out and photograph when I’d much rather sit on the couch and watch some football.
Photography is no different than studying martial arts or going to the gym and lifting weights. It requires effort, energy and motivation, and in order to become proficient at the skill, I have to have the discipline to practice on a regular basis and maintain a schedule without giving in to excuses of being too tired, too busy or unhappy with the weather that I would have to go out into. Making excuses is easy; making good photographs is difficult. I’m hoping that 2018 will be a good year for all those who enjoy spending time with a camera in their hands and seeing things in ways that other people don’t. Happy New Year!