Seth Godin talks a lot about ‘shipping’ (or launching/putting out into the public). He is a big proponent of, ‘ship early and ship often.’ Meaning – if you have a project that you’re waiting until it is ‘just right’ to launch – push through and launch (or ship) it now. In 2010, Seth Godin challenged his readers to think about what they ‘shipped’ the previous year. I think this is a great way to hold my own feet to the fire and assess what I launched/shipped in the last 12 months. Here is what I shipped in 2014:
I shot a photograph a day in 2014 that utilized lighting (studio lights or flash units). I wanted to learn how to use lighting to make great photos – so this was my solution. I didn’t cheat either. Each day I shot a new photo (excluding 5 days during a family emergency). To see the whole photo project in a pinterest-style layout, check it out here. You can click on any photo to see it larger. As I wrap up this 365 day photo project, I want to recap what made this project a success – and it far exceeds just learning how to use photography lighting. Here are the many ways this photo project helped me grow and get better at my craft.
Something that isn’t directed by a client. Something I have full artistic control over. I’m the client! For so many years – literally since I started college and doing design on a professional level, I’ve never put forth a consistent effort to create for me. It forced me to get better because I couldn’t blame the flaws on ‘the pesky client’. I now see the evidence and benefit of having a side project that I have full control of.
Even if I spent my day making detailed design or coding revisions and replying to endless emails, I could at least create one thing each day that I was proud of.
I was forced to think creatively every day. What would I photograph? How would I light it? How do I shoot a photo, edit it and post it when I have a looming deadline on a freelance project or other obligations? These challenges helped me think on my feet and push to create something I was proud of, whether I had 30 minutes or 3 hours to create something.
The act of creating a photo a day with lighting pushed me to be more agile and learn faster and try new things in other ares of my professional life – like web design and development. I would often think, “If I could figure out that lighting problem last night, why I can’t I solve this coding problem on this website?”
In these fresh stages of creativity, we are not affected by financial worries or job obligations—we are simply playing, expressing ourselves, making our soul grow and returning to the essence of creativity. The realizations that we recognize during these activities should be transferred over to our main craft.
By doing something every day and trying something different each time, I learned a whole lot about good and bad light and how to use my equipment. Now, I feel that I’m a much better photographer than this time last year. I’m now thinking about how I can utilize this, ‘do something everyday’ concept to other areas of my life: web design/development, learning guitar and harmonica, photos of my daughter? How could I do something for just me in those area that I would learn a lot from and get a lot better?
I work a full-time job, do freelance work, home improvement projects, prepare for a new baby, AND this flash photo project. When I started this project, I was hesitant as to whether I could get everything done each day. Adding this photo project forced me to utilize my time wisely and get my work done first and procrastinate later (oxymoron, right?). What also helped was reading and applying the concepts in the book Getting Things Done
1/180 – speedlight with mini-softbox coming from top right side. First photo using my new extension tubes. This one is just my 50mm lens with all three extension tubes added. Extension tubes allow for getting a bit closer than normal.
f8.0 – 1/180 – Speedlight with shoot-through umbrella coming from straight above. Small reflector on front right side. White foamcore blocking light to create background gradient. Lighting setup similar to what is explained here.
1/180 – First photo using a Pentax 80-200mm lens from the 80’s. I purchased an adapter to use this lens on my Canon camera. The focus and aperature are all manual – but the results are stunning. I love the background effect I get – the background was the neighbor’s yards.