The acquisition of an iPad has been a game changer for me in many ways and I consume a lot of educational material on it. My most recent discovery has been the world of eBooks. I came across the Canadian humanitarian photographer and writer David DuChemin via one of my podcasts and learnt of a horrific accident he had while travelling in Italy in 2011. After this accident he was unable to walk and travel for several months so he wrote and released his first eBook. It was a simple PDF, attractively formatted and priced at a stonking reasonable $5. By the time I discovered David's books he'd built up quite a catalogue and was already publishing eBooks by guest writers under the auspices of his own publishing house, Craft and Vision, most of them still priced at a modest $5. I bought a few, discovered how wonderful they were and when there was a Craft and Vision special offer one day I snapped up a whole load more. I'm still working through some of my original purchases and they'll no doubt keep me going for many years to come. They look beautiful and the content is top notch, with a big emphasis on inspiration and creativity rather than gear, unlike many traditional books and magazines.
So has all this avid reading and listening made me a better photographer? Possibly not directly, but it has made me think more about what I do, how I shoot and given me inspiration to try new things. Of course, the thing that makes any of us improve most at whatever creative things we do, be it photography, music, painting, writing or anything else, is practice. Personally, I've used my training as a musician to help me with this. When learning a musical instrument you have it drummed into you from a young age that you need to practise regularly in order to hone your skills and improve as a musician. I took this to greater extremes than most by going to music college and learning to play the recorder well enough that I could earn my living from it. That took three to four hours practice every day and I don't regret a minute of it as it has made me the musician I am today. It was a natural step for me to transfer this work ethic to my photography and start my photo a day project back in 2008. At the beginning I intended it to last for a year but I'm still at it nearly six years later. I know a lot of people can't understand why I put myself under that pressure still but I guess, as a professional musician, that sense of dedication and determination is in my genes.
Ultimately, all I ask is that I continue to grow and improve at what I do, whether that be as a musician or a photographer, and that the results continue to give pleasure to others. I've had a lot of help along the way and for that I am eternally grateful.