Protecting yourself from Burn out

This September will be the ten year anniversary of me starting my workshop and tour business.

I’ve decided to avoid using the phrase ‘going pro’, because ‘going pro’ is meaningless. Getting paid for what you do does not, in my book, mean you are any good at what you do. Nor does it mean that you are above others who ‘aren’t pro’ in terms of ability.

There are many, many talented beings on this planet who for whatever reason aren’t pursuing their passion / love as a career - and that is OK in my book. Just because you are talented, or good at what you do, you do not have to turn it into your vocation. I think it is just as admirable to do what you love, as a past time. It does not make it any less valid.


Turning what you do, into a business is fraught with many potential problems. I’m going to avoid writing about ‘running a business’ here, and focus more on the personal relationship that you have to develop with yourself. You have to figure out a way to live with your art and somehow let it co-exist with the commerce side of things. Above all else, you have to protect your art from yourself, because it can be very easy to sell yourself out at some point - throw what you value away in the pursuit of making a living. It can be for some a fine line, or for many a grey area where the love for what they have ‘soon leaves the building’ as they unknowingly sell out in pursuit of doing what it takes to make a living.

I’m one of the lucky ones.

I’ve never done anything in my business with the aim of ‘this will make money’. I’ve always looked at all the workshops and tours I’ve set up as ‘pretty cool things that I want to do’, and I’ve been lucky enough that there are enough people out there who agree with me, and want to come on these trips (Thank you to those of you who’ve chosen to come along with me on these trips).

My philosophy is: ‘If it feels good, then you can’t go wrong’.

Staying focussed on what you think is cool, rather than what you think will sell, is paramount. It not only means you’re tapping into what inspires you, but it also avoids you selling your soul.

The only downside I have with my business over the past ten years, is of balancing my working life with some rest.

I need to disengage every once in a while. And rather than feel guilty about it (which I often do, because I’ve been programmed all my life to work, and if I’m not working - I must be slacking). I understand that time away from my business, time away from photography, time to re-charge by doing something entirely different - is not only important for me, but it is also a very healthy thing to do for my business if I want it to keep it flourishing.

I have to work at protecting myself from burn out. And rather than giving myself some guilty complex about taking some time out, and doing something that is entirely non-photography related, I know that I need to embrace it. It allows me to re-charge, so I am ready to go back to the workshop / tour schedule, and most importantly, to go back with an excited, ‘I can’t wait’ feeling. Which is what happens when each September rolls around, and I’ve given myself sufficient time away from what I love doing.

You can’t keep focussing on your passion all of the time. Thinking, living and breathing photography as a hobby is fine, but you do need to take time away from it. Trust me on this - give yourself a break from your passion / hobby / obsession and do something entirely different for a while. It will reap dividends in so many avenues of your life, as well as in your photography when you do return to it.

Managing Time

I’m very creative and productive, and I rarely procrastinate.

But I never work all the time. When I don’t know how to proceed with something, I’ll quite happily shelve it and go and do something else while my subconscious figures out what the next step is.

I just know how to manage my time - if something isn’t working - I’ll go and do something else instead.

Those that don’t manage their time, waste it by sitting in front of their computers trying to figure out what to do next. I’d much rather use the time for something I do feel like doing.

In this short video, Dr. Ken Atchity explains how creative people manage their time.

Visualising the future

Everything we see that is human made in the world, started off as an idea.

Ideas are powerful things.

Tonight I’ve been dreaming of a book, a physical one. Let’s see where my dreams take me (this is not a hint, nor an indication of what’s to come. I’m just illustrating that for me, I tend to visualise the things I want to come to fruition). I would really like to do a book about the my process. I think I am going to have to give this some serious thought……


Letting go of completed work

When is our work finished? When do we decide it’s done, and put it to bed? When do we move on?

These are difficult questions because often, truth is hard.

It’s very hard to let go. Not just of our completed work, but of everything. But I believe that it’s necessary, let alone paramount to staying healthy, to do so. At some point, what we have poured our efforts into, has to be shelved in the ‘done’, or ‘past’ shelf. Otherwise we never move forward and more importantly, we never create the space required to let the future come in.


But when does one know when work is complete?

I think the answer is: it never is.

Work is never complete. But we have to realise at some point, that we’ve gone as far as we can go with it. Perhaps an older self, a version of us much later in the future may know how to take it further, but the truth is - if you’re feeling you’re at the end of the road with the work - then it’s complete.

There’s a tendency to overwork stuff. Spoil it. Part of your skillset as a photographer is to know when you’ve done enough, and to understand when the time is right to let go.

For me, I don’t like to dwell on my older work. I seldom look at it. I think for me, it’s more the creation of new work that inspires me, rather than dwelling on what I already have created. By not looking at my older work, I feel I’m allowed to free myself from the past. You see, revisiting what you did, and endlessly toying with it - is just far too unhealthy in my book. It smacks of someone who’s got no new ideas.

There’s a line in a song by a British band called Prefab Sprout that goes:

‘You surely are a truly gifted kid,
but you’re only as good as, the last great thing you did’
Moving the River by Prefab Sprout

It’s a line that’s stayed with me for most of my life. It’s a reminder that tinkering with images and never leaving them alone, means I’m stuck in the past. I’d much rather be out there creating new work, and discovering more about what i’m capable of producing. Everything I create is a vignette. It’s only ever a shadow of what could have been. I know I’ll never complete anything, so everything I do is unfinished. Rather than get wound up about it, it’s much healthier to assume that everything is a prototype, a moment in time, just a moment. It makes it less precious, and allows me to move forward.

Letting to let go is hard. I hope you don’t think that at any point in this post I suggest it’s easy - for you - for me. It’s just hard. But it is necessary.

Taking a much needed rest

There’s just so much still to be done….. but even I know, that everyone needs a rest.


I’m going to be quiet on this blog for the next month. Just to let you know.

After running so many workshops and tours this year, I’m stepping back and taking some time away from photography. I’ll be spending the time doing some trekking, kayaking and messing around with music.

Everyone needs a break, even if you love what you do. Take it from me, too much time on your passion or hobby can be unhealthy. Some time away, doing other things will allow you to return to it with the same fresh wonder that you had when you first encountered it.

So right now, that’s what I’m going to do.

Shooting the non obvious

I must admit that the three images below, were only caught because of rare climatic conditions.

One of my favourite national parks - Torres del Paine in Chilean Patagonia is still offering up new things for me, despite us being old friends. I have been travelling here since 2003. Since that time, I’ve seen my photography flourish from a keen amateur into something else entirely.


I had wondered if I’d reached the end of where I can go with Torres del Paine. To some, it may seem as if this landscape is overly busy, complex, and not for the minimalist photographer. I’m often at pains to say to everyone who will listen to me, that I think the biggest limitations in our photography - is us. It’s us who holds us back.

Not the landscape. The landscape has no concept of us, and it’s just going to do what it does without us. So us wishing it to be a certain way, is just us dealing with our own expectations…. badly I might add.


I could never have guaranteed these shots. And I think that’s what’s just most inspiring about photography: we never know when we’re going to strike gold, or create a set of images we couldn’t have anticipated.

It teaches me that I always need to be open. I need to be ready, and able to look laterally at a place. I’m not immune to the same problems we all have: I get disappointed, despondent when I think a place isn’t working. I also know I need to rise above it, and that I can’t control what the landscape provides. Even so - I still get downbeat when things aren’t working in my favour. I know it’s my problem. Not the landscape’s.

I just love that if someone had shown me these three images a year ago, even a month or so ago, I would never have imagined it possible to make such minimalistic shots in Torres del Paine. It’s no back slapping here - just simple wonderment that I should always try to expect the unexpected, that life is always full of surprises, and the best in what we shoot is always still to come.


Next book project is underway.....

Book No.5. Who would have thought it?


…. I’ve got over 100 images for my next book. But I feel there’s a missing gap, so this summer I aim to fill that gap with a return to a special place that I’ve gotten to know over the past while.

Thanks for buying my books. It has allowed me to be the creative person I am. I could not live on running workshops and tours alone. I need to have my own personal projects / art to do, and producing books, working on the concepts behind them, the layout, and the images is all very fulfilling for me.

Sorry for being so quiet

Just wanted to write tonight to say that I know I’ve been quiet.

I’d much rather write when I have something to say, rather than writing for the sake of it.

Right now, I’m taking some time out. I’ve been super busy this year : Hokkaido, Romania, Iceland, Chile, Brazil and soon Bolivia.

Even though I love photography and feel I found my true vocation in life with it, I still feel I need time away. I have other interests such as music writing / production.

We all need to step back and take a rest from whatever it is we love. It allows us to return fresh and with excitement.

I will be back in touch in a short while. I have some new images and some other things I want to share.

Right now, I’m just enjoying working in my home studio. It’s a lot of fun !


Thank You

A few nights ago, I put out a mini-newsletter, advertising that I had some soiled stock remaining from the print run of my Altiplano book. And also, that I had found some copies of my Iceland and Art of Adventure book.


I just want to thank everybody who bought a copy.

Upon reading the ‘comments’ section of the orders I found the following wonderful words:

“Thank you for making this available!”


“Thank you! I so admire your work.”

and also

“Hi Bruce, it will be just wonderful to own one of your stunning Iceland books. Thanks so much for the opportunity!”

Apart from comments like this stroking my own ego (something I keep denying that I have), It was simply just so nice to feel appreciated.

Because feeling appreciated means a lot. And I think that’s why we all look for compliments in what we do, whether it’s seeking approval through being commended in a competition, or simply someone saying to you ‘your image touches me in some way’.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg.

You see, the truth is, although we all love photography, and admire people’s talents for creating wonderful work, most of us seldom patronise it.

A little digression: the word patronise has several meanings. One of them is this:

“to give encouragement and financial support to (a person, especially an artist, or a cause): local churches and voluntary organisations were patronised by the family. “

That’s the kind of patronage I’m talking about here.

As a working ‘artist’ (I find that term rather pompous, but I don’t feel I’m a photographer), the fact is: earning a living at what you do is tough. And if someone puts their hand in their pocket for you - that’s a pretty big thing. Whether it’s them coming on a workshop or tour with you, or buying your books - it means they are supporting you.

I would therefore like to extend my thanks beyond those of you who have bought my books. I wish to also thank those of you who have chosen to come on my workshops and tours over the years. I realise that for all of you, you had to take a leap of faith and hope that I would be either a good teacher, or that I could at least offer something worth going home with. I am fully aware of the risk it has been for all of you to commit, and I thank you.

To all of you who have helped contribute to me doing what I do, I can only thank you all from the bottom of my heart.


Uncovering the story in my work

Working on an image by image basis is what most of us do. Indeed, I think any other way is hardly ever considered. We tend to think of images as stories in their own right, and collections of our work tend to be location based : 20 images from Iceland, 34 images from China, etc, etc.

I’ve been more interested in the sum of the parts of a collection of work, than in individual images for a while now. I think I can find more about who I am as a photographer, when I put sets of images together.


I find several benefits of working on portfolios, or collections:

  1. By placing the images side by side, I find that the edits of one image inform another.

  2. Some images push others further on in their development. I realise that some images are under-produced and need further work to bring them up to the same level as others.

  3. I see my style of photography become more evident through this process.

Point 3 is the most important for me.

Most workshop participants who are wondering if they have a style often say something along the lines of ‘I don’t know if I have a style’. I know I have a style in my work, because I have found portfolio development instrumental into forcing me to see where the relationships and themes are in what I do.

There is an underlying story to our work. It’s sitting there in plain sight of us, but it just needs us to look at our work in a different way. Rather than working on images on an image by image basis, I’d recommend trying to find collections that sit together well. They tend to inform me about where my recurring themes are, what I tend to do a lot of, and how I use tone and form. Portfolios are teachers. It just takes us a little effort to put together work in such a way where it flows. We can learn so much about who we are as creative artists, and where our strengths and weaknesses are.

Uncovering the story of my work has been hugely instrumental in pushing my own development forward. Few of us enquire, reflect upon our work in a collective way. We tend to look at images one at a time, and to me, this is like looking at single words at a time. By putting the work together we form paragraphs and by collecting portfolios we put chapters together. This form of assemblage, after some time, begins to write a story of who we are and what we’re trying to say with our photographs.

Photo tourist or photo artist? Which are you?

I think there are two kinds of landscape photographer:

  1. The photo artist

  2. the photo tourist

The photo artist is someone who wants to show others their view. They are looking to find their own voice, to show others what they saw and felt.

The photo tourist loves to visit really beautiful places and come home with mementos. They are happy to go to a well known location and make their own version of a well known composition. They enjoy being outdoors, seeing these rare and special places and wish to capture a good photograph, even if it may be a ‘cover’ of a well known composition.

eight different photographers, eight different ‘cover’s of a well known composition. All valid, all beautiful efforts in their own right.

eight different photographers, eight different ‘cover’s of a well known composition.
All valid, all beautiful efforts in their own right.

In the past decade, I’ve seen a massive rise in photo-tourism. Indeed, some of the photographic-tours I have run in the past have now become overrun with photographer-tourists. Take for instance the set of photos above. Eight photographs by eight photographers. All are a ‘cover’ of a well known view of the town of Hamnøy in the Lofoten islands. All are very nice images in their own right. The view is from a bridge and each morning during the months of February and March the bridge is often crowded with photographers - all making their version of a well known composition.

For many of us, reproducing a well known composition is a lot of fun. It’s simply enjoyable to be out there, and to come home with some nice images from our travels is great.

But, I am left wondering if when we take photos of a well known location, particularly a well known composition, whether we really understand that the only reason why we are able to capture these scenes, is because someone else found them for us? If you had been living under a rock for most of your life, and someone took you to Lofoten, would you naturally gravitate to a well known composition unaided by someone else’s photographs?

I don’t think so.

So which are you? Are you a photographic-tourist, or a photographic artist? Are you more interested in just coming home with beautiful, if unoriginal photographs of a well known place, or are you more interested in trying to find your own point of view, of trying to show others what you saw and felt?

I realise that it’s really really hard to find original compositions. It’s also much much easier to follow others. But when we follow others too much, we lose the chance to find out who we are and to show others what we saw and felt. This of course, may not be everyone’s motivation in making photographs: many of us just simply enjoy being there, and making images. It’s irrelevant to some of us whether the work is original or whether we are making our own version of a well known scene. If we enjoy it, then that’s just great.

We all get something out of the photographic experience and indeed, we can all learn a lot by copying well known compositions. They often teach us so much, that I think there is great value in imitating the things that inspire us. It’s just that we all need to be honest with ourselves when we’re relying too much on someone else’s ability to see a composition, and just how much further we have to go to find our own view.

Finding our own view has never been an easy task. Indeed, good photography isn’t easy. Nor is it something we master in a short while. Good photography is about being an individual, of being independent, of showing others how you see the world. Good photography is a life-long endeavour of self improvement, of development. Sure, go ahead and copy well known compositions if they make you happy and you learn a lot from the experience, but at some point, we should try to leave the well beaten path and start to show others what we saw and felt. That is why we should all photograph: to show others what we see.

Being original is hard work. The things that really matter in life often are.

Enjoy your journey :-)

Going Backwards

Somehow, sometimes, I feel as if I’m going backwards.

I take this as a message. A marker, a notice: “Do not pass this way again" - this is old ground.

We all know when we’re repeating ourselves, or when we’ve outgrown something. I think that feeling one is going backwards is a perfectly normal part of creative progress. To move forward we have to feel that where we are right now, isn’t good enough any more.


In Patagonia

I’ve just finished a tour of Torres del Paine national park in Chilean Patagonia. Thanks so much to everyone who came and shared some time with me :-)

Image courtesy of Mark McClure, tour participant 2019.

Image courtesy of Mark McClure, tour participant 2019.

I’ve been coming here since 2003. It is my favourite national park by far, simply because I feel I have history with it. Some places get under your skin and become part of who you are, and I think shape you as a person through the experiences you have with them.

So many wonderful encounters ranging from Sabine, my guide who is such a lovely person, to seeing Puma’s on just about every tour I’ve done here in the past 5 years.

The park is changing quite a lot now. As is the case with everywhere else : things are busy. Too busy.

So many photographers now, and tourists. We are living in a smaller world.

I’ve been running tours now for 10 years and I’ve seen so much change in that time. Airports have expanded, tourist numbers have gotten larger, and there are more photographers. It is becoming harder to have a solitary experience in the world’s famous places.

Scotland is overrun with tourists. Lofoten is overrun with photographers in the winter. Iceland is the same. Everywhere that has a magnetic pull, is now no longer the idea of the sole traveller but the idea of the many. Having that solitary experience is becoming less and less a possibility.

Image courtesy of Mark McClure, tour participant 2019.

Image courtesy of Mark McClure, tour participant 2019.

Much like the hiking community, a set of principles, a code of conduct would be very welcome. I feel that things are changing and park guidelines are becoming more and more restrictive.

I’d love the national parks to consider the dreams and wishes of all landscape photographers, but at present many of the rules and regulations are going in the opposite direction: things are becoming more restrictive. This is of course to save these places from the increasing footfall they’re experiencing.

If we want to get the photos we want, we have to cooperate as best as we can: we all have to be the best ambassador we can for the photographic community. I don’t know what that might entail and far be it for me to suggest, or put some thoughts forward on this.

In the meantime, all I can do is go out into the world and care for it: realise that it is a precious thing and that I represent the photography community at large with my actions. Act responsibly and try not to put the pursuit of my photography above everything else.

I wish for all of us to consider that regulations are becoming much tighter, and if we want to continue to photograph these special places without too much restrictions, we need to go lightly, and with much care into the world.

Wood block painting, Romania 2019

A dear friend has just mentioned that this photo looks like a wood block painting. That makes me very happy as I love to abstract in my photography.


Most of my images from this year were shot with a 250mm lens and a 2x converter. This one was more - it was a 250mm lens with 2x converter and also a 1.4 x converter. I often saw groups of objects together that only worked from where I was standing: get closer and the group would disperse or something would get in the way of the shot.

Many thanks to Florin Patras for being my guide this February. Such kindness, and I can’t thank hm enough.

I just started work on my new Romania images, but I’ve run out of time. Off to Patagonia tomorrow. Hope to resume the Romanian journey once I get home.


The Vestmannaeyjar (westman islands), Iceland. As part of my central highlands of Iceland tour this year, we ended up at the coast on the last day. What felt like a rather incidental shot taken to fill up the time before we headed back to Reykjavik turned into something a little bit more than that. I’ve always wanted to shoot the Vestmannaeyjar, but I didn’t anticipate that it would happen as an add-on to a trip into the interior.


Stephen in the landscape

tonight I’m working on my images for this year’s central highlands Iceland tour. This is the trip where we work with as little as possible. Ultimate minimalism !

Occasionally one of my group members would pop into the frame of my camera. We are all spread out as explorers in this vast canvas of white. My good friend Stephen Naor came over the brow of a hill, and I chose to include him in the photograph. I think it adds some nice scale to show how minimal this landscape can be.


What I love about the central highlands in winter time, is that the wind often blows the snow off the crest of hills leaving them exposed. The black desert below peaks through the snow and provides the illusion of black brush strokes on a white canvas.


The first two images will feature in my finalised portfolio. I include the image below, just to prove to those who know Stephen that it is indeed him :-)


Euclidean geometry, Lençóis Maranhenses, Brazil

I’ve been reviewing my images from Lençóis Maranhenses tonight, as I will be visiting this fabulous place in a few weeks time for my second visit.


Why is it, that most photographers try to shoot the entirety of a lake or lagoon? Rather than using a section of it, which I think provides a more focussed composition, most are tempted to get the wide angle out and shoot its entire circumference. It just smacks of trying too hard to spell a message out that most viewers already understand.

All I’ve learned is that less is often more.

Try to fit an entire lake into the frame and all that happens is the picture become weak as a lack of presence ensues. All because one is trying too hard to convey too much.

Rather than trying to squeeze a whole lake into the frame of your camera, I would suggest you focus on a small region of the lake. Preferably an area that offers some kind of elegant shape to keep the viewer interested.

The viewer will fill in the missing gaps. As is the case with my photograph. For most viewers the lagoon doesn't stop at the edge of the frame: it continues beyond, and the viewer delights in filling in the missing gaps.

The Creative Process

Illusive, all encompassing, being creative is our life’s work.

I’ve been writing about creativity for some time now, and I think it’s time I put together something in a more formal format, something that is convenient to read through.

So I’m busy collating all my favourite blog entires over the past few years.

I’m finding I have been doing a lot of re-writing to give more clarity to some of the entries. It might be the perfectionist in me, but I do find that sometimes when I write on my blog I almost need to write the post twice: the first time to figure out what it is I’m trying to say, and the second time to say it as best as I can :-) So I’m busy re-editing the entries right now. So far the e-Book is up at around 120 pages.

I hope to have it ready by the summer.

Thanks to everyone for buying my Printing masterclass e-book. I was surprisingly inundated with orders for it. I’ve obviously been living under the misconception that few photographers print these days. Printing isn’t a black art, nor should it be difficult to achieve great prints that match your monitor. So I was very pleased to find that the e-book sold very well. Thank you :-)


The making of.....

Everyone sees differently, and if I give you any thoughts today about how I created my images, please bear in mind that there are many ways an image can be constructed. I am not advocating that mine is the only way, or the right way.

You should try to find your own way, and I think the best way to do that, is by listening to what others say - particularly photographers that you like, and figure out what parts of their process resonate with you. If it makes sense : use it. If it doesn’t, then discard it. The key thing is to think for yourself and to decide what works for you.


Image prologue

I often find myself responding to the elements. If it looks good: shoot it. Don’t attempt the ‘I’ll come back for that one, as the reason you like it now, is because it’s working now. I’m not one to sit around for hours anticipating a good shot at a particular place. That’s a bit like trying to predict the stock market.

Interestingly, to contradict this, I don’t like chasing photographs either. Come on a workshop with me and you won’t find me chasing the weather forecast. You can often find something where you are right now. I prefer to stay where I am, and I seem to take a perverse delight in not knowing what the forecast is. My reason for this is - I don’t know what I’m going to want to shoot until I see it, and trying to put some kind of formula onto my shooting by watching or expecting certain weather patterns is just pointless in my view.

The adage remains true: if you don’t go, you don’t get. Or f8 and be there.

And I’ve had many workshops where the forecast didn’t look promising (for me - it’s usually a case of it being too sunny) only to find out that we found things to shoot and had a great time. You always find something.

The image

But this photo is a mixture of serendipity and of also waiting. I’ve been to this location many times and I’ve never seen it quite like this. It was snowing very heavily, and there wasn’t a breath of wind. So I knew that any small trees I used would be stationary for long enough. When I did find this composition - a small tree at the verge of the road that I’d never seen before, I knew that it would fit nicely with the background trees when the snow was blowing through. The sun was right in the centre of the frame and it kept popping through the snow clouds a bit too much causing a lot of extreme contrast. So once I settled upon the composition, I had to wait it out for about 10 minutes hoping the cloud front would thicken and obliterate the sun enough so I could record it on film without over exposure.

Learning to anticipate what the weather is going to do in the next few minutes is a good thing, but I often give myself a ‘time-out’ period and if I’ve been waiting far too long, I tend to abandon the shot and go find something that is working. I’m not in the fortune telling business. I’m here to work with what’s working now.

I used a telephoto for this lens. A 150mm lens on my Hasselblad, which relates to around 75mm on full 35mm format. The background trees were far away, so I had to pull them in and isolate them from the other noise outside the frame. But this left the foreground tree too large in the frame. So I had to walk back periodically into the middle of the road to get this shot.

Zooms shouldn’t be thought of as ‘how much you’re getting in, or how much you’re excluding’. They are really powerful at changing the emphasis between background and foreground. My trick is to do this:

  1. Set the focal length to make the background the size I want.

  2. Move forward or backwards to change the foreground to the size I want.

You see, once you set the focal length, no matter how many feet you walk forward or backwards, the background size remains unchanged. So once you set the focal length, your background is now fixed. Which then means you need to move forward or backwards to fit in your foreground. Moving a few feet either way can change the size of your foreground dramatically, while keeping the background the same size.

I’ve mentioned it many times, but for beginners, zooms are counterproductive. You tend to stay rooted in one spot and instead of walking around, tend to zoom in and out to get the foreground AND background to fit the frame. So you have two variables that change at the same time.

It’s much easier to work with one variable as a beginner, than two.

With a fixed focal length you have one variable to work with. Since you can’t change the size of the background, you only have the foreground to change. It makes for simpler composition if you only have one thing changing when you move. And besides, primes force us to move around the landscape - and that’s just great as they force us to discover things we wouldn’t have noticed by standing still.

Please don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. I am not saying that zooms are bad. Zooms are for the experienced shooter. Not the beginner. I just think that as beginners, working with fixed focal lengths is easier to master and as you become more experienced you can migrate up to zooms.

If you already own zooms, I’d suggest you try to prevent yourself from just standing still and zooming in/out to get a good shot. Instead, try to think of your zoom as a collection of fixed focal lengths. Try setting the zoom at 24mm, 50mm and 70mm and when you choose one of these, move around to see how the scene fits into the frame. Try to avoid micro-adjusting the focal length. In other words:

  1. Zoom to fit the background into the frame the size you want it to be.

  2. Move backwards and forwards to introduce / remove foreground elements until you get a good balance between background and foreground.

Back to the image

This image works well because I have the proportions between background trees and foreground tree about right. It also works well because I used the weather conditions to reduce the contrast of the sun to a manageable exposure.

It’s one of my favourites from this year’s Hokkaido trip. I’ve been to this place many times and yet this is the first time I saw this composition, which just goes to prove that nowhere is truly ever ‘done’ and going back and back again is always advantageous.

Looking for a fresh point of view?

I feel that polarisation seems to be at the heart of many human interactions these days.

I feel that we are split. Find those who agree with us, and try to avoid those who disagree with us. But I think we should do the opposite. To hang around with those who agree with us, is just to live in a feedback loop and we learn nothing new.

Rather than follow the newspapers that reinforce our beliefs, or follow the photographers that tell us what we already believe, we should go out there to find an alternative view. Even one we may disagree with. Because it will challenge us.


If you know yourself enough, you are most probably comfortable hearing another point of view without feeling threatened. To be able to filter between your own beliefs and someone else’s and to find a new position is the kind of openness we all need as artists.

I don’t for one minute expect everyone to agree with my blog writings. My blog is just a point of view. That’s all it is. But is it challenging enough for you?.

Often hearing things we don’t want to hear, can feel unpleasant, or may feel of little benefit at the time. But if you’re as old as I am (52), then you’ve perhaps learned that challenges and trials in life are often times of growth. We don’t see them that way at the moment they happen, but often years later we’re able to look back and say ‘I learned something’.

I really don’t wish to live in a world where things are predictable and stay the same. And I realise I’m entitled to change my mind as time goes on, because I learn. And I change. We all do.

I think comments or views that are considered negative at the time, are views we should sit up and listen to. I don’t mean to suggest they’re always right, but if they challenge our point of view, then it means we have been given a chance to grow. We’re either able to get more clarity on our current position, or to discover that we’ve learned something and our position has changed as a result.

For me, I’d prefer to go and seek someone who tells me something I’ve never heard before. I’d like to believe I’m strong enough to not feel threatened, while at the same time be able to re-consider without being brainwashed - to find my own new position.

Which brings me to my point today:

  1. as much as I believe I am right, there is always room for another way of seeing things.

  2. I’m entitled to change my mind, at any point.

  3. I’m entitled to change my art, at any point.

  4. Everything is up for discussion. Even when the work is complete.

  5. The work is never complete.

The work is never complete. Nothing is ever cast in stone, and nothing is ever black and white. We should seek fluidity in what we do. We should allow things to happen regardless of our views. We need to be open to let creativity flow.