Focus and clarity

Focus and clarity

By |2015-03-29T10:15:14+00:00Mar 29th, 2015|

So something that is very personal about me is that for several years now, I’ve really let myself go in terms of my physique and athleticism. I am very aware that I have no one to blame for this but myself and my lack of will power. You see, when you have near limitless access to a cornucopia of free, delicious, and gourmet foods as I had when I worked at Google, it is very easy to get carried away. Of course, Google also provides a billion ways to stay active and keep in shape… but I must have missed all of those memos.

The long story short is that I ended up gaining almost 45lbs in the two years that I worked there. It’s inexcusable and about 6 weeks ago, I started down a road to fix that. I’ve had some amazing support from my wife, Nicole, my friends, and also have been so lucky to have genuine guidance by my friend, Sandy Foster, of Yoga Bliss Photo.

But the point of this story actually stems from my personal trainer, Melanie. Melanie is maybe 5’1″ or 5’2″ but she could probably snap me in half if she sneezed the wrong way. In any case, I was in the middle of a session with her when she had me try a new form of squat which required me to balance myself on one foot while entering into a squat form and holding an 18lb kettle bell. This proved to be more difficult for me than any other preceding exercise because my equilibrium wasn’t tuned to keep that sort of balance and because I lacked focus.

So, Melanie instructed me to focus on a little label a few feet in front of me. Amongst all the chaos of everything going on in the gym at that moment, the only thing in the world that counted to me was that label. I turned all of my attention to it and you know what? It did the trick! It helped quiet my mind and all of a sudden, I was able to do two or three consecutive one-legged squats before having to reset myself!

I’m sharing this drawn out, personal story because I strongly feel that there are many common threads between my workout and photography in general. It’s easy to get distracted by the static building up everywhere around you when you’ve got your camera. This is especially true for me when I’m standing in the middle of a gorgeous creek or waterfall. I know that I need to quiet my mind and look for that one thing that causes me to stop and say, “ok, there’s my photo.”

One of my favorite ways to do this is to focus on little rocks and boulders in the middle of a stream. There is a certain peace that comes with just watching the water effortlessly skirt around and over anything in front of it. No friction, no drama. Just the path of least resistance. This usually is all it takes for me to find my happy place and start shooting.

Oh, and as for my weight loss? Since Feb 15th, I’ve lost 14lbs and about 5% body fat. I also dropped a size down with my jeans. :) I’m targeting about 25lbs to lose before reaching my goal.

Camera: Sony a7 with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS
Filter: Formatt Hitech Filters ProIRND 10-stop ND
Tripod: Really Right Stuff TVC-34L/BH-55
Stylization: Adobe Lightroom 5.7


  1. Carol March 30, 2015 at 6:54 am - Reply

    Congrats, Brian! On taking care of yourself and good luck with reaching your goal.

  2. Scott Wyden Kivowitz March 31, 2015 at 11:31 am - Reply

    Great to hear this B-Mash. You got my support!

  3. Douglas Klein March 31, 2015 at 11:51 am - Reply

    Congratulations, Brian! Keep up the great work. Support (and practice, so to say) make a huge difference. HA, you also answered one of my questions in this post: “Are you not still at Google?” I remember Nicole writing something about moving to San Francisco from Seattle or Portland. SO, you now reside in the Portland area, correct?

    Thanks for taking time to do the Live Q&A at 500pix ISO today. I found many useful gems in your responses.

    Back to your blog entry, I love the comment about the “little rocks and boulders…” I have done this many times and wished I had more than my iPhone 5 with me. Since dispensing with an AE-1Program years back, my wife and I have dabbled with P&S cameras, including a Sony. I was recently given a Canon 60D and have since been stymied. It seems to scare me. How do I take a photo without making a crazy mistake (auto, manual, priority–it suddenly becomes overwhelming so I just use my iPhone)? The crazy part is me, I know. It’s time to take pictures ad infinitum and learn how the equipment can assist me in realizing my artistic expression. However, I continue reverting to looking at more photos online, reading more, asking questions but ultimately NOT taking any photos. Yes, I have been a perfectionist most of my 54 years. We thought a return to photography would be a freeing activity. Not so much yet, obviously. I even carried the camera on a recent trip to Europe and kept shooting with the convenience and knowledge of the iPhone. Grrr. Suggestion for a way to break out of this?

    Weight loss, yoga, quieting the mind, focus. Thanks for sharing from your current story. Indeed it helps me to slow the buzz of chaos in my mind. You and Nicole are wonderfully inspiring, along with David duChemin and many others.

    Good luck with all of your current goals.

  4. Kurt Laidlaw March 31, 2015 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Good luck, Brian. The tough part is not the loss of weight but the keeping it off once you have attained your goal. I’ve probably lost 300 lbs, but I’ve gained too much back over the years. As for focusing on small rocks and pebbles in streams. I love it. I just looked back at some images I took of Ludlow Falls in Port Ludlow, WA, and by zooming in on some of the smaller rocks the focus becomes so much clearer. I finally see what I was trying to capture in the original image.

Please share your thoughts! (Markdown syntax is supported)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.