The greatest skill any photographer can hope to possess is that of observation.That's from a post called 4 Practice Techniques to Develop Photographic Observation by Christina N. Dickson at Digital Photography School.
This is right in tune with the exercises I use in my Local Color workshop, where we use digital photography to capture observations, rather than images. I love prowling around with the camera, as if I needed an excuse to slow down and really see what's in my own back yard.
But during the holidays, things move so fast all I can do is occasionally grab the camera, point and shoot. Past practice at observation helps me stand a better chance of capturing the spirit of a moment. When I come back to these hurried photos later, I'm not surprised to see things I didn't consciously notice at the time.
I may crop an image and use fabric paint and markers to make a picture I print on fabric more like the idea captured in my imagination. And for me, there's always stitching. You have no idea how much I can't wait to embroider this thicket of willow. To me it represents the thicket of responsibilities and opportunities that loom before us, and the strength and resolve we need to bolster us until we can spot a rabbit path through it.