Conscious Competence

I’m not usually one to write New Year’s resolutions. They’re too much like goals, and I don’t do goals either. I think it’s because of my perfectionist tendencies—if I don’t think I can do something perfectly, I might not try it at all. If I make a resolution and then don’t stick to it, or set a goal and don’t achieve it, I’ve failed. And I can’t have that now, can I?

After our guests left last week and I got sick, I spent a lot of time lying around like a slug. Not only did it give me time to think, but in a strange way it also motivated me. By Monday, I just wanted to do something. I’ve decided what that something is, and I think I’m even making a little resolution here. And I’m putting it on the internet. This is a big step for me, people!

In 2007, I want to achieve conscious competence with my photography. Have you heard of this learning model? Take a look at a little diagram I drew up based on info from this site:

New Year's Resolution
(Click the image to see a larger version and actually read the text.)

I’m definitely in quadrant 2 right now—I’m well aware of my deficiencies when it comes to so many aspects of creating an image. And I want to get better. I want to get to the point where I can think through a shoot and figure out how to improve the outcome, before I even pick up the camera. I want to be able to walk into someone’s home to take pictures of their kid/dog/Christmas tree, assess the light and the space, and confidently make decisions about how I should handle it. I want to develop my skills so I can more easily build a rapport with my subjects and help them relax in front of the camera.

I’ve taken some pretty good photos in the past, but I’ve been relying on the camera to make a lot of the decisions for me (I usually shoot in aperture mode with the flash in iTTL mode). Trial and error is also a big part of my current “method,” and sheer numbers factor in too. I take a LOT of pictures—you only see a very small fraction of them.

Could I repeat the good shots if I had to? I don’t know . . . maybe. I need to understand how to control all the aspects of exposure manually, so that I control the final image. (You see, we perfectionists also tend to have control freak tendencies.) If I know what I’m doing and I’m in control of all aspects, I should be able to repeat the good shots. Every time.

So there you have it. My first-ever resolution. Happy New Year!


14 Responses to “Conscious Competence”

  1. soozieq Says:

    Happy New Year to you too! Wow, um…..will you still be my friend when you are totally conscious competent and I’m still a conscious incompetent idiot with my camera? Please, pretty please?

  2. Ortizzle Says:

    Good luck with your photography. I went around years ago with my Nikon SLR writing down aperture settings, etc., for every single photo. It does actually give you a better instinctive feeling for lighting, etc. But my best shots were usually a matter of luck, too. The hardest ones are the spontaneous people shots. Sometimes you gotta just click away, take lots of photos, and hope one or two are really good. The great thing nowadays is that digital cameras allow you to immediately dispose of the ones that don’t work out!

  3. William Says:

    I think that is a very cool goal. Charts and all.

  4. Karen Says:

    I wish we were in the same city. (I was going to make some rude joke about comparing equipment, but maybe I’ll pass on that.) I’m going to send you some more email instead. I am hoping you will still be my friend when you reach your goals, too.

  5. oddmix Says:

    Happy New Year! I am back from vacation and working my way around saying, “Hi!”

  6. oddmix Says:

    Noooooooooooo! I just looked up and saw the HPO chart! *runs screaming from the room*

  7. mainlinemom Says:

    Hey at least you’re shooting in aperature mode. I’m still on Auto 90% of the time! And I haven’t yet read the manual with my speedlight to figure out what iTTL or any other mode is. Trial and error all the way.

    But I bought books! Three of them! So when I get time to read them maybe I”ll learn something.

    I can’t believe I have to do a wedding in two months. Yikes.

  8. amanda sue Says:

    lofty. and way more intellectual than “fix my hair everyday.”

    you’re makin’ the rest of us look bad!

  9. judePa Says:

    I love your photos that you have taken in quads 1 and 2. I look forward to you moving to quad 3 and seeing your photos then. As to me… I am going to stay chilling in quad 1 and look to develop my latent superpowers. Come to me cheetos…

  10. Von Krankipantzen Says:

    I think this is a fabulous resolution. Happy Accidents are all fine and dandy but when you are going into a job situation you want to have complete control and understanding. So far I think your photos (lighting etc) are fabulous.

  11. Susie Says:

    I just deleted a long comment, because you made me think. That is, I need to think more before I speak, on the subject.
    So I’ll just say, this is a very admirable, and for you, entirely attainable aspiration (not a goal 😉
    The best to you, Shawkey, and we get to enjoy the fruits of your efforts.

  12. Nurdled Says:

    When you achieve your goal, will you teach me????????

    Big Hugs

  13. tysgirl Says:

    Is there a quadrant -2
    because that’s where I am! My goal is to venture out of automatic mode on my DSLR. But I’m not making any promises.

  14. undercovermutha Says:

    I saw that on Flickr, and I just knew that something was up. If you figure out the secret to it all, please let me know. I’m just trial and error, all the way, baby.

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