Controlling Your World With the Lens Cap On

Seems like a crazy thing to say… put the lens cap on. Lens caps make taking photographs impossible. They don’t let any light in. Maximum Density Filters ya know. They keep the lens clean and don’t let images be made unless the photographer wants them to be made.

But I am not talking about putting the lens cap on your camera… I am talking about putting the lens cap on your world… and controlling what comes in. Strictly and with absolute certainty… OK, with as much control as you can manage anyway. It is a noisy world out there, and so much of it is designed to keep us busy without letting us get stuff done. The lens cap on your world means you don’t have anything that distracts you and you control your input.

A few questions for you (and me).

How many times do you check your email during the day? How many times does that email that you are answering impact your life? How many minutes or hours are spent twittering, or facebooking (Mafia Wars and some farm thing seem to be very popular) or simply reading stuff you already know? Be honest. And be aware. Now write down how much income was made from those pursuits… number of emails vs number of gigs. Scary, eh.

How many TV shows do you watch a day? Other than “Burn Notice” and “The Closer”, there ain’t much else on (heh). Ask yourself if watching more than an hour of TV a day makes you better than your competition. I doubt the answer would be yes. And remember that many of your competitors are shooting and editing and showing their book while Oprah and House reruns take your attention.

I am not trying to sound like an ass, but we spend too much time simply spending time, not using time. Only have so many hours a day that we can spend working and being creative, and the hours we lose are lost. Forever.

What would it mean to our creative lives to start to prioritize the things we do into “need to” and “want to”. Want to things are many times the time wasters. Need to things are things that must be done. There is a heck of a difference between the two. Focusing our day on what needs to be done can lead to more shooting time.

Try this… or as much of this as you think you can handle for the addicted among us.

Email: check in morning, right after lunch, hour before end of day.
Twitter: using TeetDeck or any similar product, create columns of your most interesting folks and check them out for a few minutes 4 times a day. Then turn it off so the little ‘tweet’ sound doesn’t keep following you.
Facebook: Look, if you aren’t marketing but have time to play Mafia Wars, I think you need to check some priorities. Evening for 1/2 hour to get caught up.
Phone: We need to remember how to use that thing… it has been left to its own and has become a huge time waster toy… and all that is good, but, DAMN, folks. Voice mail is good.

The point of this? To get more photographs shot. More editing of them and more images into our books and portfolios and projects. I have been talking to too many photographers who aren’t as busy as they would like to be, but are not doing anything about their situation, or taking advantage of the opportunity given them.

Opportunity? Hell yeah.

If you aren’t shooting for someone else, you have time to shoot for yourself. I hear that is what so many want to do. Do it. Create a project, and finish it. Create something to Tweet about. Create something that you can use to show AD’s on your next visit. Make it yours. Make images that you want for your own creative endeavors… and show everyone what you are doing. So instead of looking at the slower periods as disaster, look at them as opportunities to grow.

Have you done a Blurb book yet? If you didn’t watch TV for two weeks, that extra time could have been a Book of your personal images. Or portraits of your kids. Or that migration project you have been working on for a few years… whatever. It would be a book. Your book. And all you had to do was put the lens cap on your world, and focus on what needs to be done. The book needs to be done, the TV wants to be watched. Easy.

Controlling your world means getting a hold of your time, and channeling that time toward endeavors that will grow your work, book and stature. And it has the advantage of opening up more time for those family things… so you can be right there and all there.

Put the lens cap back on some of the things that are keeping you from shooting and working on your own images. Put it over the TV, and the talk radio and the forums and the other distractions aplenty. It won’t hurt a bit… well, maybe a bit, but the scars aren’t permanent.

I am not suggesting being a workaholic, and of course there are things that we can do to eliminate stress (I play my drums or the piano when I need some stress reliever), and there are things we just want to do. My personal distraction audit found some places that were draining my energy and sending back no reward. Continuing to do those things would be silly, don’t you think?

Putting the lens cap on the extraneous distractions may actually give us more real time to create, and more real time to enjoy!

See you soon, and you can follow me on Twitter if you like. I occasionally take the lens cap off and have a few things to say. 😉 You can leave comments here.

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  1. Excellent reminder Don… Thanks.

  2. Thank god you didn\’t limit how many times I can check my Flickr comments!! Whewwww!!

  3. Forgot to say Burn Notice rocks and Fiona needs to model at a LE workshop soon!!

    • No Martin… I didn’t.

      But there is help for that.

      “Hi, I’m Martin… and I am a Flickrholic.”

      “Hi Martin.”

      Just sayin…

    • Oh hell yeah on Fi!!! Heh!

  4. We must be on the same page today Don! :) My thought of the day was, “Success is allergic to laziness.”

  5. First off, I’d like to ask. Will you join my Mafia? Be my neighbor in farmville? How about try my new soup at Cafe World?

    Seriously good bit of common sense there. I think we all do it. What rung loudest for me was the "reading stuff you already know" – I just got a Nikon F3 and picked up an MD-4 for it. In the past, I’ve owned F3’s and MD-4’s and many other bodies from that era. I know all the strengths and all the weaknesses of this camera. So, you know what I do? I spend 3 hours reading reviews of them and looking at manuals online. Did I learn anything at all? No, nothing. Why keep reading? Because I was sucked into the vortex!

    • That Vortex is a Killer!

      We all have been there. Totally exhausting useless work.

  6. P.S. that’s +1 on Burn Notice and Fi!

  7. This is something I’ve definitely been taking control of lately.

    Being your own boss takes LOTS of discipline, and for me, it has taken some annoying, recurring calendar pop-ups and reminder tones on my phone to whip me into shape and get me on track, but it’s been working.

    I start my days early – anywhere between 6 and 7am, just so I can have some "extra" time before the day actually starts.

    This is when I sit down at my desk, handle any emails, and go over my schedule and tasks for the day and remaining week.

    I also schedule out any automagic tweets for the day and skim the latest RSS blog feeds, and do it all in the time it takes to fuel up on coffee.

    After that’s done, I’m up and at ’em, handling any tasks for the day, and not sitting at the computer unless I have to. Even then, I keep any application that’s an irrelevant distraction closed (usually).

    The schedule I’ve made for myself has been tweaked as needed, but it’s pretty much stable now, and I find that I get a lot more done because I’m more focused on goals and forward momentum.

    Another great post, Don.


    Destry Jaimes

  8. Great Article, I really needed this article today! I’ve found myself far too involved in the happenings on twitter and FB, and not enough time on the tasks that truly MEAN something to me and my business.

  9. *sigh* I needed this. I answered a potential client’s email at 10:30pm the other night…….30 seconds after she’d sent it…….while I was in the bathroom.

    She booked though! LOL

  10. ROGER THAT !! Already doing it.!!

    I “Closed the Lens Cap” on a few things this week and last, and allocated that time for things in the “PLUS column” of my personal growth ledger. LE is one thing in the “PLUS column”. I find it easy to keep doing the same thing… the challenge is to constantly reevaluate and continually adjust.

    I have a computer (additional to the office) that faces away from the TV the Family watches in the evening. I can work on “Priority C” things while the TV is on. I have a little rear-view mirror I can glance into if there is something I want to “see” (usually not so much). This keeps me connected to the Family without them having to hunt me down in the office, plus the appearance of work-a-holic is reduced. I don’t even know what Burn Closer is, I’ve never played Mafia, and block “friends” that keep sending me that farm crap!

    Timely Article !!
    Happy Friday

  11. This Article realized me to get back in my work which i left before..

    thank for such a inspiring article…..


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