Sunday, January 02, 2011

2011 Creative Resolutions

Three years ago I started the tradition (although I didn't know that then) of reflecting on my creative goals and setting some for the new year. I revisited them and set some new ones in 2009, and then again last year. Time for another round, decorated by some recent photos that have turned my crank.

Orchard Patchwork

Reflections on 2010:

This year I flopped on the 365 (taking and posting a photo every day), doing a grand total of 31 days. The show at Red Rooster happened and went well. I did a couple of photo books on Blurb (Okanagan Abstracted and photos of the kids for their grandparents). Gear-wise, I got the Sigma version of that lens and a macro lens, which isn't really an accomplishment, but helps facilitate the other goals. Overall, I'm really proud of what I did with my photography this year...three goals out of four isn't bad, and I feel like I've taken some wonderful photos.

2011 Photography Goals

There's the temptation to keep shooting higher every year, but I'm not sure that's sustainable. I'm feeling somewhat less ambitous this year, yet when I list the things I want to do, I realize that I'm probably overreaching a bit.

  • I was remembering the afternoon I spent with Tom a couple of winters ago -- I learned so much in a few hours just by watching and listening. Photography is a solitary pursuit for me, but if I want to improve, I'd be smart to seek out skilled mentors.
  • I'd like to learn to shoot DSLR video with decent audio.
  • I picked up a couple of books by photographer Freeman Patterson -- I find his words and photos very inspiring, and feel like I need to re-read Photography & the Art of Seeing again to really assimilate it...immerse myself it. Masterpiece!
Sharing and Projects
  • I'm participating in a challenge at the Summerland Art Gallery where they reveal the theme at a reception and then 20+ artists have two weeks to produce one piece of art to hang for a month in the gallery. The
  • I'd like to do another small-scale solo show or presentation (projections) later in the year.
  • At least three new photo books this year, just for personal momentos and gifts.
  • Photographer profiles and Focus Fridays on Awesome Okanagan are more of a curating role for me, but it's photography-related I'm finding it to be a lot of fun.
  • I Love the Okanagan -- this little Flickr group still brings me a lot of pleasure, and I think we'll keep it going like it has been. Maybe we'll try another type of gallery project this year, and I think a get-together of some kind would be fun.
  • -- Ultimate Ice -- I started this small invite-only group with a few passionate ice shooters, hoping that it can be a showcase and place to connect with people who share our chilly hobby.
Locations and Subjects

I'm in a bit of a rut, I think. Although I like my local sets, I see more growth and variety in sets from maybe the trick will be to hit the road a few more times this year. I've found that I have to intentionally make time for photography on family trips, and it's not always compatible. Perhaps this year I need to take some solo days to explore with the camera.

For themes and sets, I don't find myself coming to the end of my favourite sets -- I keep finding views of orchards, ice and my kids that are different enough from the past stuff I've shot that I keep seeking them out. I need one new theme to pursue as well.


My old 30D is starting to show its age in blown pixels, and 8MP has become limiting when attempting to publish books and bigger prints. I'd like better low-light/high-ISO performance too, but don't have the budget for full frame. My lenses lock me in to Canon, so I'm looking at a new body like the 60D, T2i or 7D...any of which would let me explore video.

If video isn't important, I could do what I always do and go for something less new, less cool and noncurrent -- 40D or 50D, perhaps slightly used and discounted. But I really like the idea of shooting video through SLR lenses. I'll need to pick up a good portable audio recorder too, both for video projects and music.

Oh yeah, I have to remember to just have fun with this hobby. Sometimes I take this stuff too seriously.


Reflections on 2010:
  • Learn to do multi-track recording with my laptop. Success! Not that I'm any good at it, but I learned enough to be able to use the laptop for composing, which was the real spirit of the goal.
  • Compose and record 10 songs. Well, in rough recordings, I exceeded this goal, but for polished ones I came up a bit short. The Summerland Suite was six songs, recorded reasonably well...better than zero.

  • christmas-lights-zoom
  • Play well with others. I had noted that the previous year's musical highlights involved playing music with people, and this was true again. Learning my songs and playing them the string quartet was the highlight of my creative life, never mind year.
  • Don't become Ross from Friends ...I was already too late to avoid this fate last year.
  • Don't buy more stuff. I did ok on this one, spending $100 on a mic for recording and $60 on an old beater baritone horn that hasn't gotten much use.

2011 Music Goals

I'm not sure why I have this sense of trepidation about setting direction for music this year. It's probably because I was so focused through the summer and fall, and performing the string quartets was such a high point. Now I'm a bit tired. Over the holidays I finished another song for string quartet, but it's exactly like the other ones -- signs of a rut. I've been playing bass more, but to what end? I know that for the sake of my mental health and identity, really doing music is very important, but I'm at a bit of a loss. So these are tentative, even though they're basically duplications of last year's goals:
  • Compose and record 10 songs. I don't see why I can't repeat this goal. I'd like more variety, playing with different instruments and a variety of collaborators.
  • Play well with others. Music, like photography, is a solitary pursuit for me, yet I see the huge benefit of collaborating with other interested and talented musicans. I need to make more effort to make these happen -- even just jam sessions with friends.
  • Perform The Summerland Suite again. It was a lot of work to put into a collection of music that was only heard one time -- need to find the appropriate situation to play it again.
  • Don't buy more stuff. Martin let me try his cello the other day and I was buzzing with joy to feel it rumble. But I don't think this is the year to buy and learn another instrument.
  • Improve technique and intonation on viola and violin. This seems to be coming along just by playing every day.
  • Be a good musical dad. I so badly want my kids to have music available to them throughout their lives that I sometimes push too hard. Other times I overcompensate the other way and ignore the cool stuff they're doing (especially Ella's singing). I also tend to do my music when they're not around, so I'm not modeling it for them.
  • Just enjoy it. I got very goal-oriented through the last half of the year, and maybe burned out a bit. I need to relax, exist in the moment and enjoy what music brings to me in social engagement, mental stability and joy.

I also had a throwaway note about blogging last year. It keeps limping along, with a measly 42 posts since those last resolutions. I feel the same as I did last year -- it certainly could be better, but I'm thankful for it in any form, even limping. I've also done a lot of my recording of day-to-day life on Facebook this year, so some of it has probably just shifted over there -- apologies to those of you who'd rather see stuff over here.