A Private Journey

Obscure found image. Track to nowhere

Being an artist is a private journey, but one the viewers are invited to participate in. I don’t collaborate or take votes to guide my journey. It is just me. It is intensely private.


I have to make my own way in the world. As such, I am stuck in my own head. Creativity has to somehow spring up from within. Being an artist is lonely. LIke a writer, there are those terrifying times when you are facing a blank page (or empty frame) and you have to create something. No one else can do it for me.

Not everyone agrees with this approach. Some people, especially if they are young and just learning, want to run in a crowd. They have to immediately post every image to social media to get feedback. To me this is a form of insecurity. My values and style is deeply ingrained and I do not seek immediate validation from the internet. But that is just me.

What works for me is to explore, to be receptive to what I encounter. I seldom have a detailed plan for what I want to shoot. Rather, I turn myself loose and let myself be drawn to scenes that interest me. It doesn’t always work, but that is what inspires me. The word that keeps coming up is”me”. Not in an egotistical way, but in the sense that I am the only one who can take this journey. If it wasn’t me it would be someone else’s art.

I also find, and this is just me, that when I put pressure on myself to “have” to come up with something creative the results may be good but they are seldom great. But when I let go and just react and experience then creativity can flow. Understanding this about myself has let me keep my art constantly being a joy.

A journey

Virtually all my subjects are collected outdoors. It is extremely rare for me to set up a controlled indoor shoot. So a shoot for me involves movement. I have to leave my studio and get out in the field where my subjects are.

This is a joy for me. I am an explorer. It is hard to pass a road I haven’t seen the end of. As an example, just a couple of days ago I was exploring up along the border of Wyoming. I went down an obscure dirt road I knew was a dead end, but I had never been down it. It was great! I loved the sights, the remote wildness, the windswept barrenness, the newness. It was fresh. Something I had not seen before. It energized me. Even if none of the images make it into my portfolio, it was well worth it for me personally.

But a journey doesn’t have to be far. I do a lot of shooting while walking around within a mile or 2 of my studio. Journeying is an attitude. A sense of exploring and investigating. It is sometimes difficult to feel a sense of discovery in an area I have been over and over so many times. But that is part of the game. It is a mental discipline. If I can find new and fresh sights in a familiar area then it is even easier to get inspired in an interesting new place.


It is true that my art makes me happy. If I never showed it to anyone I would still have the joy of creation and discovery that would compel me to make it.

But artists are also somewhat egotistical. We feel we have something worthwhile to share with other people. I hope those who see my work enjoy it and can share in the sense of wonder and amazement I felt while making it. I’ll be honest, I also hope you decide to buy some of my prints for your walls. The money is nice, but even more is the knowledge that this had an impact on you and that it will now continue to influence you. We all would like to leave a legacy.

I know your time is valuable and increasingly scarce. I seek to make art that is captivating enough for you to give me some of your time to view it and think about it. I hope my art will awaken some new thoughts and feelings that will make your day better, to refresh and renew you. I like to feel that some of my pieces on your wall will have a long term benefit as you see them every day.

Internal and external

My art is a private creation of my own mind and energy. I do not collaborate with others or shoot assignments. What energizes me is exploring and finding wonder in the everyday sights around us. I may work a project or a theme at times, but mostly I let myself be drawn to whatever is exciting me at the moment. I am very much in the moment when I am creating, even when working at the computer.

Even though my art and my process is intensely private and personal, I also have the viewer in mind. I am constantly reaching for something creative and fresh to share with my you. If you give me some of your time and attention I want to give back. I hope I can succeed with you. It is my private journey but I want to share it with you.

Go to my web site at photos.schlotzcreate.com to view a little of my work and let me know if any of it resonates with you. Please join me in my private journey. I welcome your feedback.

Becoming an Artist

A Creative view of a common occurance

I consider myself an artist. I would like to share what I see as my journey to this state. Becoming an artist is not something I decided to do. Looking back, I see it was a journey I was on for a long time. Let me explain.

Early camera days

I first picked up a camera when I was in college. I wish I could tell a moving story of a valued mentor who inspired me and set me on the path. No. No one encouraged me or gave me an example. I just did it, probably on a whim. Or maybe even then there was a creative urge that needed an outlet.

Like most people I just took shots of family and friends, pretty scenes, you know, the conventional stuff. Occasionally an image stood out to me, but in general they were definitely not memorable.

Balancing the left brain

I had a long and rewarding career as an engineer. I loved it. In many ways it was perfect for me. I could burrow in on problems and devise solutions. It required constant learning, which led me to learning how to learn and self-pursuing the equivalent of several masters degrees. I was having fun.

But subconsciously I also knew I was spending too much time on left-brain activities. You know, the logical, analytical, quantitative processing that we all do, but some people do a lot more. I was drawn to balancing myself more with visual and intuitive activities.

I was lucky to live in Colorado. My wife and I would often head out for a long weekend, or even a week, of hiking, jeeping, and photography. We didn’t leave Colorado all that much for many years.

Even so, my photographic work was uninspired and uninspiring. I shot untold thousands of slides (pre-digital days). I still have most of them. The times I have looked back on some of them, I’m embarrassed to say they were technically competent, decently composed, but lacking in much feeling or excitement. Very few are worth spending time to bring them forward into my current portfolio.

I have stacks of record shots of beautiful places. But something was missing and I couldn’t place it.

Software architect

Later in my career I taught myself software architecture. Wow. I didn’t know there could be such rewarding creativity in engineering. I had the privilege to design a few relatively large software systems and direct the work of excellent developers. It was a joy.

A strange unintended consequence happened, though, The more creative experiences I had in my work, the more I sought and wanted. Design in all forms had me addicted. I was no longer content to just develop software, I wanted to be more involved in the design of things. Studying design became a hobby and obsession.

I still had not expanded my view to realize the design I concentrated on was just a small part of the world of creative endeavors. My photography continued, but it was still a background activity. There was lots less jeeping and outings since the kids were growing up.

My photography continued. That is a thread running through my story. I moved to digital somewhere along the way and had no nostalgia for the loss of film. I was improving. Sometimes I liked the images I shot. But not that often.

User experience

Somewhere later in my career I expanded my interests to embrace the new field of user experience design. This was much larger than user interface design or human factors. It dealt with feelings, emotions, likes and dislikes. Those are uncomfortable subjects for a hard-core engineer!

But it was a revelation. People don’t buy or use something because of a logical evaluation of pros and cons. They buy it because they like it. It makes them feel good.

Most of those years as an engineer I pushed difficult to use things on people and assumed they would spend lots of time learning to use them. That works if their company is paying them to suffer through it, but in general it is not a good strategy. Engineers design things for engineers and assume everyone will learn the technology and lingo.

Now there was a whole new view. Feelings were real. Emotion was something that could consciously be designed for. You could actually determine what people had trouble with and intentionally design the product to make it pleasing to use.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was the beginning of the end of my engineering career. The creativity I saw here and the embrace of feelings took me away from normal engineering. I did finally realize this new creativity was directly applicable to my art. It was a clear step toward me becoming an artist.

My photography became much more than recording scenes of places I have been. I was conscious of feelings. I wasn’t as interested in making a record of something as I was of surprising, of revealing something different or interesting.

Artist using photography

I finally resigned my engineering career and declared myself an artist. That was hard, but exciting and empowering. I no longer worked for anyone. I could pursue my own interests. I could create according to my own vision. Even if that meant sitting out on the limb while I’m sawing it off.

I am unapologetic that my art is based on photography. Photography as an artistic medium has important benefits, even if it is abused by many.

All digital images need work on the computer. Sometimes I am able to capture an image whole. It is almost ready when it comes out of the camera. All it needs is minor color and tone correction and some “punch”. But sometimes an image is just a sketch. It is a starting point that needs a lot of work to develop it into the image I want to show to people.

Either way, or any other way, this is art. This is creative. I love it. I feel fulfilled.

Can’t not do it

I can’t not do it. For you non-US readers, please forgive the terrible grammar. This is a popular catchphrase that refers to something you are so passionate about you are unable to avoid doing it. My art is a can’t not do.

It is not just something I want to do. It is not even just something I do. It is something I have to do. I am compelled. I do it all the time, unconsciously, even if I don’t have a camera in my hand. It is the way I see the world now.

I”m grateful for the life experiences I have had. I suspect I needed those years of discipline to get to where I am now. I could not have jumped directly to this point because I needed to mature and refine a lot of viewpoints and thought processes. Your mileage may vary. I hope you are able to find the best path for you. “How artists get there is as important as how they arrive.” – John Paul Caponigro

If you consider yourself to be an artist, or if that is your goal, I hope you are able to become obsessive in your work. A lot of people view artists as a little crazy. Maybe they’re right.