Design quickly. Decide slowly


These were very hard and long lessons to learn and bring into my working practice.  The huge cost of film and working with a large format camera for so many years in some ways hindered these lessons, but also in the end taught them to me. 

I would spend all day wandering around with my camera, scared to take it out and use it, being fearful of wasting precious money on film.  Yet, when the conditions and feelings for a photograph were right, I went straight to work and photographed quickly.  Once I had the shot I moved on.  So there was a lot of time searching and waiting for the feeling to arrive, yet once it was there I created very quickly.   

Afterwards, I would pile up the films until I had a decent amount before processing them.  Sometimes it would be six months worth before I started to see them.  It might even take another year before printing them. I still have a back log of films to process and an even larger backlog of ones to print. 

Fast forward to today. I have managed to go back to a similar process, which for me works very well.   

I spend an inordinate amount of time searching for that feeling of beauty.  Once it’s there, is strong and I am in tune with it, I start with abandon. I work fast and free. Now I take as many photos as I need to feel satisfied. Working fast gives me a closer relationship with my emotions rather than my cognitive thoughts. 

By working fast I am trying to skip the thinking that often stifles my creativity. My thoughts don’t get much of a say while I am working.  Feelings are the goal and head state I am aiming for. 

When I have finished I let my work sit.  Often it sits in the camera for days.  Then onto the computer.  If there is no pressing need I leave them for months and even a year before I really evaluate them.  I am trying to forget the taking and what I was doing.   

I want to experience my work as new again and not judge it on what I was trying to achieve.  I will explore this idea deeper at another time.   

For now.  Try working faster. Create fast.  Evaluate slowly with time.  Design quickly and decide slowly is an old creative adage that is really worth following.  It may take years but I hope you get there.  It makes a huge difference.


Myall Lake foreshore.  Photograph copyright © Len Metcalf 2018

Artist | Writer | Photographer | Educator | Adventurer