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Thursday, 10 January 2019

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I think it's great advice, but then I'm biased. I tried to come up with 25 categories and failed, even after padding the list with several thinly disguised duplicates and tossing in things I don't really care about.

I recently heard this concept expressed as work on your strengths rather than on your weaknesses.

Gah! Now you tell us it’s based on an exercise from ‘Grit’. In many years of following your recommendations Mike that was the first one I really didn’t enjoy. On your advice I downloaded the audiobook and listened from beginning to end. (Satire alert): Perhaps it’s just my British ears which it grates on, but honestly that woman needs to get over herself! She presents what is mostly common sense (and has been far more pithily summarised in aphorisms such as ‘genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration’) as groundbreaking scientific research and declares herself a genius on the back of it. In between these passages she is for ever flying off to meet people with names like ‘Randy Gutballslinger’ and ‘Biceps Schlushauser’ to hear tales of how, by standing knee deep in ice cold water naked for three weeks continuously whilst throwing footballs and singing ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ they were able to subsequently pitch 500 straight N-zone drops for the Seahawks in three consecutive seasons (I don’t think anyone will spot my complete ignorance of the principles of American football from that last sentence.)

She doesn’t tell us what happened to Warren Buffet’s pilot on taking his advice - presumably he now owns United Airlines or similar. She does leave you with the feeling that, if you lack some of the personality traits required for grit then you are probably an inadequate human being. Finally all measures of success that she aspires to seem to be measured by athletic prowess, worldly status or financial gain, which I suggest should not be considered the only goals of the good life.

Excuse my rant, I’m just irritated that I have spent 2 evenings compiling and editing a list to discover that I can’t ever take a picture of a boat again. And I like taking pictures of boats. While I agree that focus is essential for any worthwhile project and certainly portfolio discipline is critical for people trying to make a living at this game, many of us here are amateurs and do this (as the name suggests) for the love of it. Dabbling is part of the fun. I’m off to move ‘Boats’ further up my list.

[For Pete's sake, Patrick. I even wrote a whole post about this. It was called "Suggestions Only."

https://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2019/01/suggestions-only.html

As punishment for not reading that, yes, it's true, YOU ARE NEVER ALLOWED TO TAKE A PICTURE OF A BOAT AGAIN. You hear me? That's it; you're done taking pictures of boats. You're not allowed. Because I'm in control of this and I have spoken. Try it and there'll be a knock at your door late at night. You have been warned! --Mike]

Creating content to feed the soul versus creating content to feed the wallet (or pay the bills) would come into play (to degrees) with that Buffett exercise. I thought they referred to him as the 'oracle of Omaha'?

I often see professional portrait photographers (for example) with 'Personal Projects' sections to their online portfolios that are at odds with the portrait photography. Maybe shooting those personal projects keeps them in the game and not doing so, or focusing on the top 'x', would see them chucking the whole enterprise of photography?

For me, I'll be focussing more on storms and weather and see where that takes me on the continuum of satisfaction with my photography. And then I'll get back to you.

Thanks for keeping things interesting.

Seems to me that Part 3 has made it clear to me that I messed up way back in Part 1.

As I really only shoot one genre now (women in various states of undress), my 24 other "subjects" are mostly sub-genres and sub-sub-genres, or refinements of that just to fill out the list.

So I'll take it as a good sign that I'm already concentrating on one thing to the exclusion of all else. :-)

Constraints are really, really good. I am always puzzled by people who resent limitations, either self or externally imposed, believing they will be unable to function fully.

Limitations are freeing, enabling us to maximise the full potential of ourselves and the process.

Look at photographers who have made major contributions to the medium. Lee Friedlander, has to the best of my knowledge, used two camera formats only. Originally a Leica with a 35mm lens. Now a square format, fixed lens Hasselblad Superwide. Henri Cartier Bresson made his career with a 50mm, (he carried 35 and 90mm lenses, which were seldom used). Leonard Freed, 35 and 50mm. Josef Koudelka, made his Gypsies book with a 25mm lens. Moving to the west, he created Exiles with 35 and 50mm lenses, using mainly the 35mm. He then focussed on panoramic pictures. Extensive projects, each made with constrained means.

By limiting ourselves we are able to more effectively interrogate the overwhelming complexity of the world.

Now I'm *really* confused.
The lesson is certainly logical. Triage. At age 60 I clearly don't have enough time left to become skilled at everything I want to master, so I have to focus on a narrower set. I have created a body of landscape, forest and weather/cloud photographs I'm really happy with. And I recognize that the relative handful of good (for instance) studio-lit portraits and architecture photos are just distractions.

On the other hand, I have an accidental collection of nocturnes, photographs of small town main streets shot on rainy nights. I was initially just messing around, decompressing on the way home from late night trips to the hospital. But other folks love 'em, and they have kind of grown on me. Should I move this little category up into my top five?
Damned if I know.

WOW - this and the fact that I hardly ever use my Sony FF Gear, preferring instead my Olympus System, really brings clarity. (I'm selling the Sony stuff, getting rid of the clutter)

Thank You

This makes me want to go back and look again at my rankings... Seriously. There are things I want to do more of, as I expect they'll lead me somewhere. Some of the things in my top five (family snaps, for example) are wildly important, and may lead somewhere, and need to be worked on with conscious effort to improve at, but I don't want to be a portrait photographer or anything: I just want to document my family. But for five things to focus on near-exclusively, I wouldn't put family snaps in there. Does this make me a heel?

I should write a blog post on this, and suppose I'll keep the trend going. Should I, I'll maybe report back with further thoughts.

I'm not playing and here's why.

First, how do you know when you have "succeeded" at your top 5, when you are famous for those categories? Most famous photographers are famous for one photo or three or four at best. Because people come to hire you to shoot work in those categories? I am not a for-hire photographer.

Second, although I could easily narrow the categories to 5 (indeed I have trouble coming up with 25) I don't photograph things, I photograph experiences. I.E. I am not an insect photographer but do a lot of flower photography and if a bee lands on one I'm shooting, I will do my damnedest to get the shot because it is part of the experience.

Third, I hate, really abhor artificial limits. This process reminds me of Jim Brandenberg's 'on photograph a day' self-imposed project. He had a reason, a good reason, for doing that. He was getting burnt out shooting hundreds of photos a day and he felt like he was losing his visual edge. I respect that and looking through the results I believe he succeeded in what he set out to do but I don't have that problem.

Some days I don't 'see' as well as others but it isn't a category of subject matter that is the problem when that happens to me. It is more a matter of not being fully present, not being in the moment and fully connecting to what is around me asking to be photographed.

I found that over the three steps my categories underwent a process of refinement. My first list included things like 'people I know', 'places I know', 'using a rangefinder', 'black and white tonality', etc. But when I went to prioritize the list I realized that many of my categories specifically involved the passage of time; 'building construction', 'building demolition', and when I wrote 'people I know' or 'places I know', I was really thinking of how these changed over time, and how I could record or express that change and what it means.

My final list of five still needs some thought, but I am sure I will eventually derive categories that reflect my (discovered) interest in the effects of the passage of time on particular subject groups. And there is no reason why my preferred strategy/processes like black and white with rangefinders should not apply to all five.

My current proposed list for consideration:
1. My extended family and how they are changing.
2. Streets and places I know and relate to, and how they change through the seasons and over the years.
3. Strangers living their lives in surroundings they are comfortable in. Could be on the street on in their homes.
4. People at work. Construction crews, maintainers, art performers, workers in general.
5. Anything (artifacts, constructs or machines) that have been superseded in todays world, are not up to date, or to be replaced.

Come to think of it, that should keep me busy for the rest of time!

Two things Warren Buffet and I have in common:

1) We're natives of Omaha, Nebraska;
2) "Five priorities" is how we manage our lives.

As Click and Clack (the Tappet Brothers) used to say: Sonja Henie's tutu!

I did not see that one coming. It's brilliant.

Well - I didn't really see that one coming!

I'm a retired engineering manager, and throughout my management career I have attempted to get my people (and myself) to focus on their strengths and downplay their shortcomings (in line with the proposed philosophy).

I thought your exercise was heading me into a dead end. Much to my surprise I now realise that I have recently been guilty of trying to be too much of a generalist. Time to refocus. Thanks!

P.S. I too bought a pdf copy of Grit, read it, and now believe that I wasted my money and time!

regards - Peter

"I'm all over the place and don't really have much of a clue what I'm best at." - Yep, that's me and as I may have mentioned, I sort of figured that was the way this exercise would be going for me. I rattled off 65 categories in about 20 minutes and in Part II managed to pick 7 'essential' categories. Not only does the term 'Jack of All Trades' ring a bell - 'Master of None' also springs to mind. However! Among those 65 categories are technical ones such as 6x7, 645, 6x6, 4x5", Kallitype, Slide film, Negative film, Stitched digital panorama's. What does that tell me? If anything you can guess what you'll find when you visit the Camera Graveyard in my attic. But more importantly - it tells me that I'm a curious guy who's willing to learn and investigate.

The bear went over the mountain - just to see what he could see. I don't claim to be a master in any of those categories. The point is not to show the world that I can do all those things - the point is that I want to taste what they're about. In that sense, I kinda sympathize with Patrick's rant. There seems to be an implied assumption somewhere that we're striving for success, and in that sense, it's a brilliant exercise and no, we shouldn't take pictures of boats if boats aren't our thing. But what if we want to learn and investigate? And I did read your caveat, so please don't punish me, good Sir.

Is it a viable strategy not to aim for success at all?

Because here's an interesting aside: I won the Grand Prize in PDN's World in Focus contest and I'm in the Top 50 of Critical Mass 2016. So how did that happen? I was honored to receive those accolades not because I aimed for success, but because I went out to investigate and learn.

As an aside, the most important categories I picked out are not technical (apart from the general category 'Analogue Medium Format') but have to do with things that get me going personally and photographically (such as 'Careful framing/ordering of image elements in the frame', 'Pictures of my children that show I love them', 'People in surroundings that define them', 'Structures/patterns with one element breaking it up'). But to think about that, and put them in perspective, has pinpointed a couple of things for me that I sort of knew, but never put into words. In that sense, I did find the exercise extremely valuable. So I did learn something new, and that is the most satisfying takeway for me. So thank you, good Sir.

If your photography is a creative pursuit rather than a money making career I think that this principle is going to be less than helpful. You need to get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to progress.

Someone once said that If you always do what you've always done you will always get what you always got.

[I'm not sure why you'd assume that you can't "get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself" while in the pursuit of a focused goal. If one of my categories is "portraits" (it is, actually), why can't I challenge myself to be creative while creating portraits? --Mike]

I used to shoot more subjects but for quite a while I've stuck to "my" style of landscapes. I also try and reduce the number of shots I take each time I go out. I realised that each shot uses up an amount of creative energy, in the taking, the editing and the processing, and I need to husband my creative energy carefully.

The basic tenet is correct: you have to believe in the thing you want to do for things to happen.

At least, that has been my professional experience with photography. The thing that may not have been made clear, though, is that you have to be able to do that "thing" better than the rest of those around you or, when the break comes your way, you will be found wanting.

Rob

Lol, I can see where both Mike and Patrick are coming from above. Following Buffet's method, all I have to do for yuge personal success is stop taking pictures of ... *checks list* ... my kids, places I go, the seaside, anything at home, anything at night and basically anything that's not a building. Nah, I know what pictures to take, it's just the rest of my life that's a distraction. :-)

Probably the lesson for those dissatisfied with this exercise is, don't conflate a spare time hobby with career goals when evaluating what's relevant advice.

This is excellent advice! I doubled my regular Patreon contribution just before you started this Little Game and boy do I already see a nice return on my investment! ;-)
I'll definitely play the game for my photographical endeavors. I have been trying to distill my way of expression and main topics of interest for years from my ever-growing library of pictures, with tangible conclusions just eluding my grasp time and again. I've seen threads and patterns of seemingly cohesive concepts here and there but nothing really gelled. This game should do the trick.
It's resonating particularly strongly today. When riding my bike to work this morning I was mulling over the old idea of mine again to try to establish a family pedigree and the associated history. It's something I'd really be interested in and I think it's a worthwhile cause. Then I considered all the effort and time needed (going to public registries, archives, talking to many relatives) and made a final conclusion: it's not going to happen unless I give up on other activities competing for my limited leisure time, so I should bury this idea once and for all. So before coming to work and reading your 3rd part of the game I already crossed off one of the not-top-fives of my bucket list. Very liberating! It's something I observed myself doing semi-consciously in increasing frequency now that I am approaching my 50th birthday...

Bill Murray has been an inspiration to me my whole life.

Thanks for posting this, Mike. I think it's great advice in both photography and life, though not always easy to follow. Parts 1 and 2 of your series now make sense. I haven't been playing along so far (too many other goals I'm working on..), but perhaps I now will...

I (perhaps others, too?) have long been guilty of trying to do too many things (both in photography and life) to an entirely mediocre standard. Actually I think there's nothing wrong with this as long as one enjoys doing so. But life keeps reminding me (I'm in my 30s) that to do anything to a really good level takes true dedication (commitment even), and indeed the active abandonment of things that might otherwise take up mental energy and time. I’m a university lecturer/researcher and I am regularly reminded, though the work of one colleague in particular, that to reach the highest levels of achievement requires the highest degree of focus. This necessarily includes the active rejection of even peripherally-related areas of interest.

Thanks for the W. H. Murray quote - how nice to see him represented here. By the way, his other books on mountaineering (such as Undiscovered Scotland: Climbs on Rock, Snow, and Ice) are truly excellent reads for anyone interested in the outdoors. The fluidity of his writing is just wonderful.

Fellow readers might also find Bruce Percy's recent post, on the topic of spreading thin or thick (I paraphrase) broadly relatable (https://www.brucepercy.co.uk/blog/2019/1/3/a-lifetime).

I’m guessing those who struggled to pad out their categories from 5 to 25 will feel vaguely vindicated ;-)

Focus has worked for Mr. Buffet, and it may have worked for Jack Welch -- GE only fell apart after he departed on clouds of business acclaim. Lack of focus is probably going to bring Elon Musk to a grim end someday soon. But are you sure this is generally appropriate to photography of the sort which tells us stories or helps us to see things? (Other than weddings, of course.) What about Lee Friedlander or Henry Wessel, who accrue piles of photos and only later, somewhere in the editing process, see what messages are emerging?

Any project needs focus and committment, if it is to get finished, get across a point, and be publishable. But the dabbling, as Patrick calls it, is where the next idea can come from.

Whew! When Mike said to limit our lists to 25 categories I thought that there must be something wrong with me. My list had two and a half entries!

Mike, your comment: "My observation over many years is that photographers, for some reason, hate being limited. We all really do like to think we can do everything. Again and again I see this in the work, and hear it in the statements, of photographers of all levels." strikes me as very true, from what I've heard in conversations and read around the web. This is also the impression I get when hearing about peoples' gear 'needs'.

It is as if many amateur photographers feel that they just have to have equipment that allows them to be this sort of splatter-gun generalist. They need to have a camera that can capture sport, a close-up fashion shoot, busy street constellations, birds in flight, insects, star scapes AND they also need to be able to approach all these subjects with 4k video if they want to!

This also seems to be one of the main reasons why there is so much crossed communication on so many forums, which can get heated and spiteful: a) my wonder toy can do more than your toy, b) if that camera doesn't have this feature, it is dead in the water, c) what do you mean it's not sharp wide open in the corner, d) it's razor thin DOF or nothing e)it must have 4k 60/hz and 20 frames a second, even if I never, ever use that.

No wonder so many people look at a Leica M and a 35mm lens with blank incomprehension, even when the photographer that uses it knows that they specialise exclusively on environmental portraiture to the exclusion of everything else.

I can see the practicality of this advice. I might even try to implement some of it. Maybe.

But I am more fascinated by how many people keep looking for the magic bullet, that one piece of advice from some luminary du jour, that will "set them free" to "soar like an eagle" or, well, feel free to pick your own favourite life goal here. What will cultural historians think of our obsession with self-help on the road to "being the best that they can be"? What if the best that you can be is just being an average every day joe.

Are we being programmed to desire something that we really shouldn't care about this much?

The world seems to be full of people who think it is their job to tell the rest of us what to do and how to do it. Just look at the self-help section of any bookstore. If this stuff had any validity, we'd be a culture of imagination-defying accomplishment, or at least we'd be trending in that direction.

I find people who are uninterested in so much of the world really boring, is the thing. So I don't want to be like that.

I kind of wish I hadn't read this before finding time to do the first parts of the exercise ... and at the same time, I think that knowing the goal will help me with the initial 25 (though it might bias me on the prioritization.)
I expect the 25 to be challenging because there are so many ways of looking at what I like to shoot, from subject matter to lighting to times to locations to moods ...
But I definitely appreciate the intent. I imagine I'll still be "photo dad" and take snapshots of the cats but I'll identify areas of focus for the kinds of photography I like to do when I have to do that kinds of photography I like to do.
By the way, I've done a half-hearted job of this in the past for another reason. I've looked at EXIF stats in Lightroom to see how much I shot with a given camera or lens in the last year to get a sense of where my priorities are, gear-wise. But then I've also done the same for a subset of pictures I consider to be more the kind of stuff I want to spend my time shooting. It may or may not help me with gear decisions in the future, but it's interesting (to me, anyway). If I can ever get serious about categorizing photos, I can see what I use to shoot the things that are most important to me.

I originally came up with only a couple of categories. Thinking I might have missed the point of Step 1, I started over and was able to define some additional categories and ended up with ~25.

In Step 2 when I started to prioritize, I realized that many of these were only sub-categories of a larger category. When finished, I had 12 sub-categories, but only four major categories and a fifth, catch-all category..

Of these, I routinely shoot the first three: Weather, Landscapes, and Astrophotography.

One other thing this exercise made clear is that for me there is a difference between shots I like to take, and shots I like to look at. I like to look at my moody downtown night shots. I hate going out in the cold at night or early morning to shoot them (I'd rather be sipping tea and watching Netflix, or sleeping).

I really struggled to prioritize the 25, I wound up roughly organizing them into "top," "middle" and "bottom" and gave up sorting the bottom.

Like many others, I found the exercise revealing but will need to modify the takeaway. One of my top 5 categories is "life documentary" which encompasses a vast range of photography, much of which I do not even want to excel at, but looking through the archives those are the photos I care about most. But oddly all of my personal prints hanging on the walls do not fall into that category. So I think I'll "cheat" and move #6 onto the list and treat life documentary as a separate thing.

It was quite helpful to find a number of categories which I like the idea of, but really don't care enough about to devote the time and effort toward improving. Some of these categories I find to be frustrating because I picture someone else's work and cannot recreate that vision because I am cluelessly taking a snapshot rather than creating an image. Those categories I shoot regularly I begin to "see" and know there is at least a decent image to be made.

I wonder what Elliot Erwitt would say?

[Yeah, but he's Elliott Erwitt and we're not. --Mike]

Dear Mike
Absolutely brilliant little game. Here goes a high five to you.
Now, I am surprised to hear people need to sift through their archives to discover where their strengths lie and above all what they most enjoy taking photographs of. Does this mean people shoot willy nilly on autopilot? Just hoping for the best?
It is not possible to find your voice, authorship and get real worthwhile material by waiting for something to come to you, or by walking around hoping to capture meaningful moments. To get a project going you have to consciously seek it out, be persistent and be very aware of what you are up to.
Now your game will manage to sharpen and tighten any wannabe's "sights". If I may, I would like to add your one lens one camera mantra and your advice on reading Tao Te Ching and Zen in the Art of Archery.

I struggled to list 25, but there are only three that really interest me: Wildlife, Landscape, and Travel. (Travel photography is street photography in another country.)

I also practice contemplative photography monthly, but that is only because the exercises make me better in my favorite three.

A friend who was a men's councillor used to tell me that successful family men limit their focus to three things, job, family and one other thing (the hobby). Most men, he said, try to do more than one hobby, and that's where the problems start, because when that happens, too much focus is taken away from one or both of the most important things in his life - job and family (and as the job is mostly set in stone, it is usually family that suffers). The beauty of this little game, is that I think the same thing applies with my efforts at photography, all of my work has been suffering because I have focussed on too many things and not enough on the type of work that I love.

James’ Bullard says he photographs experiences. Though believing he does, he is mistaken. He, like all of us, can only photograph *stuff*.

James’s was excited by the arrival of the bee on the flower, likely because it was a richer combination of *stuff*. Additionally, his window of opportunity was shorter than with the flowers alone, because the bee will do its stuff then fly elsewhere.

However, all viewers of the photograph will extract meanings beyond James’s intentions, or beliefs. Someone who risks anaphylactic shock if stung by a bee will respond differently from a horticulturist, apiarist or entomologist. This applies, whether the individual has such subject knowledge or not.

As David Vestal was at pains to point out, photographs show; they don’t tell. Lee Friedlander highlights this beautifully in his quote.

*I only wanted Uncle Vernon standing by his own car (a Hudson) on a clear day, I got him and the car. I also got a bit of Aunt Mary’s laundry and Beau Jack, the dog, peeing on the fence, and a row of potted tuberous begonias on the porch and 78 trees and a million pebbles in the driveway and more. It’s a generous medium, photography*. Lee Friedlander

The point of the exercise resonates with me as I could be described as a "Jack-of-All-Trades; Master-of-Some." That is I sail a trim boat, and I bake a pretty good loaf of bread, but I am neither a great sailor, nor a great baker. Nor a great astronomer, nor a great tenor, not an ace flutist. In fact, when I applied to college in the dim and distant past, I kind of pitched myself this way: you might have soccer players, and you might have English majors, but I bet you don't have soccer players who are English majors who ALSO are cartoonists that play the flute. And who are photographers.

The funny thing about the "list" though, is that I am an amateur photographer in the Latin sense of "Amo, Amas, Amat" - I don't have to do it. I do it because I love it. And most of the pictures that I take are already in my top three or five categories. So I won't deny myself the odd landscape, even if that particular 1/500th of a second is a waste of time and electrons. And occasionally, the marvelous serendipity of the world yields a landscape that I love.

This is, the end product of the excercise, another reason why an "Irving Penn" looks like and Irving Penn, an "Ansel Adams" looks like an Ansel Adams, a "Sally Mann" looks like a Sally Mann and so on. Those folks have whittled the world down in camera to the essence of their vision -- in effect _excluding_ from the view all that does not fit with how they see the world. And they are great, in part, because of it. A subversive part of me hopes, though, that Irving Penn had a shoe box under his bed with out-of-focus selfies and other desiderata developed at the local photomat, that reminded him of lost loves, wrong turns in the road, and unplanned dinners with strangers.

Life is not, after all, all discipline and rigor and we should all be open to a pleasant surprise now and again.

Good advice from a billionaire for people who think they want to share the same sort of monomaniacal obsession.

Remember, people who become very rich are best viewed as addicted, not successful.

I decided early on that just developing a business that would support me would be easier and more rewarding than trying to become an art world star. And more likely to happen.

So I take photographs in the categories that please me. Exhibit in galleries that like those few categories they like, and am well enough off that I can do what I like because the first business worked out pretty well.

Neither my business nor my other pursuits are going to get me written up in The New Yorker, but that's fine. I view my life as balanced, not spectacular.

Don't take advice from billionaires unless you are similarly afflicted is my motto, your's might vary.

Although it's not as much fun, there are still benefits to be realized from photographing things one doesn't enjoy or is not very good at photographing.

Just as working out at a gym isn't very much fun (for most people, anyway!), doing so regardless might help them markedly improve, say, their tennis game, which they enjoy quite a bit. You know the saying: No pain, no gain, and I find it applies to photography just as much as it does to lifting weights or running scales.

While I'll never photograph another wedding -- once was enough, thank you! -- there are plenty of photos I take not because I enjoy taking them or like the results, but because doing so will improve my skills (or at least maintain them during those times when, for whatever reason(s), I am unable to take photos I enjoy) and make me a better photographer overall.

In turn, this will help me take better photos of the things I do like and enjoy photographing. As such, I think of it as being more like cross-training and not a distraction or waste of my time. As ever, though, YMMV!

You often encounter people who've not been successful because they're not very good at anything. On the other hand, I haven't been successful because I'm not very good at everything.

I applaud your lesson, but it is very painful. All my life I have tried to discipline myself to do what you suggest, and I recognized early that it is perhaps the only way to be successful in what one chooses to do. But I fail. The reason is that I feel I am missing out on the fun by not trying other things that I am perhaps not very good at, but perhaps could be if I try and try again. I had noticed early on that I was not good at anything but loved too many things, and to be good at anything I had to try very, very hard. So it is that I do with other things wherein I am presently not very good. Then, is it not the journey that matters? :-)

Hmmmm.
I think Jack Welch managed to maintain the *illusion* of success by strip-mining the accumulated value G.E. employees gifted the company, pumping the stock price with financial chicanery, then bailing before the inevitable collapse of the house of cards he left behind.

I'm late to this, but it's been fun! Picking the five is harder than the 25 though, I like all of them, and some are kind-of related (eg sunrises/sunsets at extreme telephoto). It's certainly given something to think about.

A counter view seems to be contained in Chris Wiley's recent opening quote from Lee Friedlander in the New Yorker: “I tend to photograph the things that get in front of my camera”. Was he just unconsciously selective about what was in front of his camera?

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