Thoughts & Ideas

The Art of Focus

One of the many books that I have been reading is John C. Maxwell’s, “How Successful People Think,” and the chapter that forced me to pause and take a moment to reflect upon my life and business was “Engage in Focused Thinking.”  To sum up the chapter in a sentence, Maxwell says that in order to do our best work we must practice uninterrupted focused thinking and we can only do that when we know what we must focus on.  With this in mind, what are you focusing on in your life, business and career?  Are you trying to take everything in, or are you choosing to emphasize the few instead of the many?

Choosing focus points means having to make choices

One of my favorite technical aspects of photography is shallow depth of field because I am able to bring greater emphasis to one subject over another.  It adds another element of choice to the creation process because not only do you have to create a compelling and pleasing composition with an approximate exposure, but you have to make a choice in the placement of your focus point.  There is so much emotion that can be injected into your photography by choosing unusual focus points.  In a recent photo shoot, I was posing my subject in front of a mural and the words “What the Hell Do You Care?  Your not going there.” were behind him, so in one frame, I decided to emphasize that over my subject.  I made a choice.  And it is the process of making choices regardless of the outcome that allows us to learn more about ourselves and what we do throughout our lives.

Continuous autofocus is putting your ability to focus into the hands of someone else

Modern cameras have a feature called autofocus that continuously sets your focus for you.  It can be very distracting in many applications because if you are shooting a lot of motion or action, the camera is going to be all over the map and nailing the focus can be frustrating.  It is the same in art and business.  If you let someone else make the decisions of how you focus and what you are choosing to do at a given moment, you are not going to be very focused.  One of my greatest struggles is multi-tasking, especially when I am really busy and have a lot of active projects.  I start to panic and in that panic I lose my ability to focus.  I drift in and out of different aspects of each project and nothing takes shape.  But as I force myself to focus on bringing form in order to get further responses from a client, I am able to progress, the value of focus is expanded greatly and clients are satisfied that I am working on their projects in a timely manner.

Response drives progress

Nothing in the creative and business worlds is created in a vacuum.  The only way to gauge where your ideas and career is at is to get your work and yourself in front of an audience and then engage in discussion.  For many artists this involves getting outside your comfort zone and admitting that they don’t know everything.  It helps to see what is resonating with your audience and what is falling flat.  It can stoke the fires of your own creative process and it matures you as an artist.  For business owners, by opening yourself up to the views of the community and your clients, you can utilize your position of leadership to address the concerns of people through a unique response.  Ultimately what people want is the courtesy of a response.  Why?  It helps them to progress in their own lives because they have one less thing that they themselves need to focus on.

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