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Archery and Art

A month or so ago I met with a close friend who moved out of the area a year ago to pursue her Masters in performing arts. I’ve sorely missed her so when I discovered she was going to be back in the Bay for a short period of time we arranged to share some time and a meal together. I wanted to know how her education was progressing and during that conversation Hanna mentioned something I found very curious. “One of the things we do in class is we practice archery.” Huh? was my reply. “Wait a minute, I thought you went up there to study acting, why are you practicing archery? Do you have to hunt for your own food or something? Has Humboldt County turned you into a complete tree hugger? I don’t get it…”

Hanna patiently explained to my ever ignorant mind, “Our teacher talks to us about intent. When you practice the art of archery, all of your focus in on hitting the target, it’s your intent to hit the target that he’s teaching us.”

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Intent: A husband’s unwavering love for a wife in failing health.

I get questions now and again about what I feel makes for a great photograph, not just a good one, but a great one. For me a great photograph tells a story, one where the feeling I get from viewing the image is palpable. I want to be moved by an image whether it’s for commercial purposes or for personal work. And then I remembered that whenever I neglect to have intent in my own work, my own measure of a great photograph never happens… EVER. It may just be a ‘pretty picture’ which misses the whole point for me.

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Intent: A new father’s hope, concerns and dreams for his daughter.

I am a huge fan and follower of dance. There are times when I witness a performance and am completely and utterly moved. I am blessed to know a number of phenomenal dancers and when I’ve asked them about a specific moving performance, to a person their intent was from their souls. A personal feeling or experience they wished to convey.

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Intent: An artist evaluating his work in progress, the difficulty all artists face as they create.

So when you next venture out to create your own art, ask yourself, “What is my intend? What am I feeling when I create this image? What do I want to say?” I know for myself that without ever asking those questions I’ll never produce great art. Now where’s my archery set?

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