Here is a recent post from Jim on the National Geographic site…
“If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of better stuff.”
That’s a simple mantra and I repeat it like some mystical incantation rooted in utter practicality. I share it with other photographers and I endeavor to follow my own advice. As a result, I spend a great deal of time doing photo research, looking for great locations to shoot. Put simply, I’m a better photographer when I’m standing in front of something wonderful like the Grand Canyon.
Getting to wonderful places is bread-and-butter photography. Getting there is only half of any great photograph’s story. The other half is how the photographer prepared to envision the subject once in front of it.
Example: Today my mind is absorbed in the long climb up Skellig Michael, that remote crag isolated in the Atlantic off the coast of Ireland. There, Celtic monks found their solace in spiritual isolation 1,400 years ago. I have never been on Skellig Michael, though I have come close four times. Each time I was thwarted by high seas. Mentally I am preparing to be among the beehive huts in the monastery at the summit, in the mindset of ascetic hermits seeking their spiritual desert in the vast Atlantic.