It'll soon be a new year of photography for me as we approach January first and I can't wait to get out and learn more about how to take a photograph. This year has been a year of learning. I know there are areas of my photography that have improved and I know that there are many other areas that I have yet to understand. Another thing that truly amazed me as well was how much photography has improved my karate and how much my karate has improved my photography.
Twenty-three years ago when I joined the Atlantic Karate Club I learned how to punch using the karate methodology, specifically, the Chito-Ryu way. It's something you generally get taught in the first few classes. The mechanics were fairly straight forward. Start with your hand in a fist and positioned next to your hip with the palm facing up. Punch straight out at your target being careful to keep your elbow tucked in to ensure a straight delivery. As you make contact, rotate your fist to obtain the best possible penetration. Voila, a Chito-Ryu karate punch.
When I first learned about photography I learned how to take a photograph. Load your film and set the ISO/ASA on the camera. Point the lens at the subject and adjust the focus to ensure the subject is in pefect focus, adjust the dials to make sure you have the proper shutter speed and depth of field selected to create an image with good exposure. Push the shutter release and capture the image. Voila, a moment captured on film.
The parallels do not end there as I have learned in both karate and in photography that there is so much more to each of these processes and as you learn each new detail and nuance your skills improve. On the surface they are simple but underneath there are details and complications that have to be explored and learned before you can say you have truly learned those techniques. And if you think you've learned all that you can learn about punching or taking a photo then shake your head as you must be mistaken. I know it's cliche but it truly is about the road and not the destination and I am finally, after twenty plus years of karate and photography starting to learn that concept. The beautiful thing about that is that once you learn that, once you have embraced the idea that there is always more to learn then your skills improve.
I think this sentiment is such a cliche, however, I also understand why it has to be repeated over and over making it even more cliche. It's and easy concept to understand but a very difficult one to actually embody in your day to day life. As a martial arts movie fan I've heard many, many times that one must empty their cup to taste another's tea. I beseach all of you in the photography world to learn from the karate world and to please empty your cup.