I have now fully committed myself and sent the money off for the first part of the course - so I think it is time to consider what my intentions are and where I want to take my photography. Obviously things may change over the next few years but these are my starting thoughts.
I am not planning on aiming to be a professional photographer, been there, got the t-shirt, at least, vicariously. My stepfather was a photographer in the long ago of film only. He took pictures for magazines and books of Europe and especially of sites of historic interest, with the occasional tree or landscape thown in. We still have files and files of slides and many thousands more are/were sitting in the archives of various agencies - this was well before digital or high quality scans, and the only thing that did was large format colour slides.
What did I learn?
a) patience. Film was very expensive - so you waited for the right light and cloud cover, or for that irritating tourist in the ugly jacket to move.
b) persistance. When you find a good view - go a little further to find the perfect one.
c) light. Evening or morning - there was little use of flash as it wasn't very portable.
d) recording. Take notes so you could remember what worked and what didn't. Lots of notes, there was no automatic details recorded with film so they were all painstakingly written down in a notebook after every shot was taken.
I have long moved to digital and fallen into the trap of shooting hundreds of photos to get a very small number of good ones. On reflection I an slowly realising that that does not work for me, I am a packrat by nature - and once taken find it very difficult to discard things. So the plan should be to think first!
What are my aims?
I have just embarked on a small (very small) experiment. I have posted 2 photos onto flickr on one of the groups which exist to gather comments and work though levels. One is a nice, pretty sunset, well OK , its a good sunset with all the right ingredients. The other is a simple monochrome, macro picture of a single flower. I think the flower is much the better photo, more interesting , and showing greater skill. The sunset garnered far more votes.
My photography is for me, sometimes for my family and occasionally for gifts. I need to be satisfied that each print I make, hang or give away shows something that is individual. This may not be the obvious or popular shot. It may not always be pretty - but something should catch my eye and remind me why I stood there at that time and took that picture.
I am hoping that studying the art and craft of photography will help me get there, a long term aim.