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Uncomfortable Places

One thing nice about having a blog is that you have international visitors and can get a different perspective. However, you need not be outside of the U.S. to chime in. :)

You’ve heard it so many times before: You have to get out of your comfort zone to improve. What exactly does that mean? Going back to the workshop, Les mentioned that there are rings, if you will, of comfort. In the center, the comfort zone, one ring out, the learning zone, still further out, the panic zone.

He indicated that we should strive to make it into the learning zone. That is, for example, in my interpretation, if we are comfortable with landscape photography, then perhaps we should try photographing macros, or animals, or something along those same lines, but different that we already do. Perhaps it means learning more about Photoshop or Lightroom to be able to express our vision better. The panic zone, of which I have personally experienced, is something way out of the norm, say going from landscape photography to wedding photography – landing in a zone where you are not comfortable at all, nor do you like what you find there.

My question is this:

Is this an American thing? The desire to be uncomfortable once you have reach comfort – to never be satisfied – to always strive for more, bigger is better – more is more! ;) It is ever-present in our culture. We want bigger houses, more money, more prestige, an economy that grows and grows. We want the DOW Jones average to go above 10,000 (Yippee, we made it! Now let’s do 11,000, now 12,000, 13,000, etc). This all takes a toll on everyone and consumes resources at an unprecedented rate.

Many years ago, when computers were first introduced, they were to be the saving grace. We could get more done in less time and have more leisure time. Nope. Companies realized that they could squeeze more in in 8 hours, make more profit. Expand.

With photography, we are always being challenged to do more, learn more, never be satisfied with your work. Grow! Grow! Grow! I’m not disagreeing with Les, per se, because I’m usually reading and experimenting to learn more about my skill, or how to refine it so as to make it more effortless, but have little desire (anymore) to branch out into other areas other than those that I am very familiar with.

If you’re a great landscape or people photographer, for example, why take an off ramp to something else, unless you get tired and want a change?

Your take?

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