Came across photographer Nick Onken and his awesome website the other day. Not only are his photos amazing, but he also tells a couple of really good stories, like this one.
I was reading through a few of his blog posts and came across this one about seeing -- I liked what he had to say about photography being a top-down art. You can have the best gear, the best studio, and the best website, but if you aren't aware of your own vision, or if you're not able to communicate your vision in the photos you take, you won't make it very far. You should begin with your vision. As you refine it, better gear, equipment, and outlets are just ways for you to improve what you're already doing. I'll admit that sometimes I have to remind myself of this. As a beginner, I think it's easy to become wrapped up in gear and "stuff" --- when really, these things are just tools that allow you to create what you "see," both literally and figuratively.
This also got me thinking about my own vision, or what kind of style I want to embody as a photographer. I definitely don't think I have a recognizable style yet, but as I read more, study work that I admire, and do my own experiments, I am learning what excites me. It is a fun process.
Here's an image from Nick's Smokey Mountain project: