Monday, September 29, 2008

Learners vs learned

Photokina was last week. Photokina is the gigantic world’s fair of imaging held every other year in Cologne, Germany. In 2006, 162,000 people attended from 152 different countries. When my wife and I attended Photokina twenty years ago, there was no hint that the future of photography was anything but film and chemistry.

At the time, I was one of the country’s experts on what is now an archaic technology, black and white film and black and white printing. But things change. The news out of Cologne is the reinvention of photography. Everything is different.

The reason I am back in photography after a twelve year hiatus is that everything is new and exciting. The quality and versatility we are getting from digital photography makes film and chemistry seem like ancient times, yet there are always those that hang onto the past. These are the learned people, the experts on the old ways of doing things.

“Learned” people are perfectly suited for the last generation. “Learners” are the ones ready to move ahead with the next generation. This has nothing to do with age and everything to do with attitude. The book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible says that it is foolish to long for the old days. The wise look to the future.

I find myself getting excited on Sunday nights because I realize I get to go to work the next day and do some cool stuff. This may not mean I am wise, but I think it does put me in the minority. It seems like a majority of people are just putting in their time waiting for Social Security to kick in. Their creativity was squeezed out of them in grade school and then the corporation put them in a box. The next step is for the undertaker to drive the nails in the box.

Those who are learners are always looking for new ideas, and new ways of doing things. They are excited about the prospects of the future. They read, look around, and listen to what others are saying. That’s the group I want to be part of. I think Photokina 2010 is calling me.