Every form of art has its own tools of the trade.

Obviously there are the physical implements: pens, brushes, cameras, guitars, etc. But I’m thinking more of the techniques by which we use those tools to express our vision.

You can learn these techniques, but at some point during the practice of them there will come an “ah ha!” moment where you suddenly get it deep down. Then you will be able to really use that technique to create your art.

I remember my “ah ha!” moment regarding the relationship between shutter speed and aperture very clearly. I was a very green photographer. I “knew” what aperture and shutter speed did. But one day I was out and about with some friends and we came to a water fountain at a shopping center. For some reason, I decided to shoot the fountain at every aperture. From as wide open as the light would allow, to the smallest available on the lens. When I got the prints back and saw the effect, it was then that I really knew what aperture and shutter speed did to my photos.

I was lucky in my career as a photographer to get a full-time job making photos very early. I spent 40-plus hours every week for almost 10 years being paid to learn photography through a lot of trial and error. It is the very best way to learn!

I got to thinking about this recently having committed myself to learning another art form — guitar.

I’ve loved music for a long time. And this is not the first time I’ve been involved with music. I’ve “known” what music could do, and quite a bit about how and why it does it for a long time. But learning the techniques on my own, and hearing the results from my own guitar has led me to many “ah ha!”s recently.

And I find myself energized not only by the creation of art, but also by the learning process itself. I eagerly await that next “ah ha!” I can’t wait to find out what I didn’t really know before, and for that next horizon to appear.

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