Contemplation

Originally uploaded by ken.udle.

Lately I’ve been thinking about a number of things, I suppose that’s what we do at the start of a new year. I noticed this year, things feel different although I can’t quite put my finger on it, I think it has to do with a coming period of change.

Have you ever had the feeling that you no longer belong in the place you’ve occupied for a long time? Has it ever felt like a once familiar place has moved on in a different direction and your only noticing it now? I have and it’s little disconcerting. This blog is about photography so don’t expect any in depth analysis or explanation on the root cause for the sensation. What I think is worth noting is that when you find yourself in that place, there seems to be only two options. Either adapt and catch up by working harder to get back in sync with the others; or continue on your own path, in which case you best have an exit plan. Time will tell how quickly the transition will take but I’m comforted in knowing I have a plan.

I’ve been in the public service for than 34 years; I’m now at the point where most of the people I worked with are either retired, about to retire or are being promoted. Mostly I’m surrounded by Gen. Xer’s just coming into their own and beginning move things in new directions rather than following the lead of the Baby Boomers. In 2008, I had a glimpse at my own mortality and realized how quickly things can change. I also realized I had to accept certain realities, such as woodworking was not going to be as big a part of my life as I thought. I needed an alternative and decided that photography would be the basis of my next career; and following the advice of a retirement advisor, I started right away to make it a significant part of my life.

I figured there would be three phases to my plan. Discovery, Learning, and Growing. The first part came easy especially with my younger brothers along for the ride. It was focused on gear and software, discovering all the tools, experimenting with styles, and making lots of mistakes. The second year, at least for me, was centered around formal learning with workshops and courses at a local photography school. It was through immersing myself in the craft that I began to let technical decisions become second nature leaving me to explore what I wanted to create and why.

The last phase will last the longest, at least I hope it does. Growing as a photographer includes discovering new aspects of the craft and learning the skills to continue to improve on the results and keeping things fresh. I feel I’m at the beginning of my growth as a photographer. In recent months I have moved beyond the confines of where I live by establishing productive relationships with Ray Ketcham, my mentor on the West Coast of the US, and Sabrina Henry a blogger and photographer friend based in Vancouver. I have a detailed plan for what I want to achieve this year. Some of it I’ve been thinking about for a couple years, other parts are both scary and exciting at the same time. Most of the goals are achievable within the year and achieving them will help move me towards the longer term goals.

And that is really the point of this long post. Our day-jobs pay the bill and hopefully will end at a time when we don’t need to go to an office building every day or convince someone with money or credit burning a hole in their pocket to buy something they don’t really need. That day may come sooner than you expect and those who think ahead and decide what they’ll do next will be better prepared for that day. Those who begin now to work towards that thing, whatever it is, will have less of an adjustment to make. If Photography is your thing, make a plan, set some goals and work towards them. You’ll be surprised how great you feel when you pass those milestones.

So, which option will I choose, catch up or go my own way? I haven’t decided yet but I can see that the time to make a choice is getting short. Maybe I’ll take the fast approaching exit, or maybe I’ll wait and take the next one a little further down the highway. Either way I know I have a plan ready for the next place.

4 comments
  1. Wow, Ken. Sounds like you’ve been reading my mail. 🙂 An excellent post and excellent advice — make a plan, set some goals and work towards them. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But I find the growth and discovery so rewarding even when it’s difficult. And you’ve found great company with Ray and Sabrina. Good luck to you! I’ll look forward to reading about and admiring your progress.

  2. Hopefully the place from which you feel you need to move on is not your house! Has Charlie made a demand for better accommodations?? LOL. Interesting post Ken. Your feelings of something different / change are echoed by many people I’ve spoken with over the last few months. Not really sure why there’s such a pervasive atmosphere of impending change. Maybe all the hoopla about the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012 is having an effect on peoples psyche.
    I’m at the opposite junction. I’m just getting into a place in my job where I’m not dreading going to work each day and we’re doing some upgrades to our house which is making me feel like, after only 7 years or so, that this is where I belong. This is the longest I’ve ever lived in one place and the longest I’ve ever been employed by the same company. Since it seems I almost always do what is 100% opposite of the mainstream and the opposite of “right”, then your, and all those others I mentioned expecting change, must be right by default. Maybe this is some sort of weird comfort that you are on the right track. I, on the other hand, should probably worry.

  3. Dave Udle said:

    I’m happy you have a plan. But sad in knowing that plan involves a move away from us. But happy it’s a direction that will make you happy… you get the idea…

    • Ken Udle said:

      Well the move wasn’t on my mind when I wrote the post. I was thinking about the short term

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