As a photographer it took me years to learn how to use, really use, the camera. When I first started taking my photography beyond “point and shoot” I would spend hours learning where all the buttons on the camera were, eyes closed, what their function was and how those functions interacted with other settings. I studied focal length, ISO, aperture and shutter speed etcetera, and spent hours experimenting with the settings and learning how they interact. Eventually it got the where operating the camera was instinctual.
Soon, I went on to study composition, aesthetics and learned to hone my vision. I studied the masters of landscapes, fashion and adventure photography. I have lugged my cameras through swamps in the heat of day, to the top of mountains in the freezing morning air and set up the perfect shot with crabs nibbling at my feet deep in the muck of salt water estuaries.
The work can be compelling. The work can brilliantly capture a moment. But, if there is one thing I have learned, no matter how skilled you become, it is mush easier to make a beautiful picture if you are focused on something beautiful. Come to think of it, seems like a pretty good metaphor for life.