The Essential Tool

So my essential tool is an essential internal force. I have had a lifelong propensity towards disorganization, overlooking details, and sloppiness due to haste. This has manifested itself in all parts of my life, from my chicken-scrawl handwriting and lost points on algebra tests to forgetting to check my aperture before shooting and misplacing papers I intended to read. It’s a fairly serious debilitation. 

My solution? An internal impulse. The voice of Gordon Ramsay.

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Yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds, but let me explain. Gordon Ramsay’s core complaint, the sentiment at the center of every cuss speckled threat and criticism he gives, is that people are unfocused. They don’t taste everything they make, they don’t clean their workspace between steps and dishes, they don’t stay organized and methodical. That is, as it happens, my exact Achilles’ heel.

So, I wrote out an alphabet of clean and easy to read type, and I forced myself into a new handwriting. I took five minutes after finishing a test to zone out before checking it over. I methodically check my focus, my easel etc before every print. I carry extra film in my purse. It’s all about building up the mental checklist necessary, and over time it just becomes habit. From organizing your files and backing them up, to making sure you’re on PRINT not FOCUS before making an exposure… my mental Gordon Ramsay screaming out his principle of being clean, ordered, and focused often proves my most useful tool.

–Kathy Akey

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