In this post I am going to lay the ground work for a road map of sorts. It’s really just a random stream of ideas designed to help you navigate that most difficult of journeys – the one to creativity. I’ve made several attempts at this here on Photofocus. This is just another in what will be a string of many. Hopefully this one resonates with someone. These aren’t rules. They are simply guidelines and have personally benefitted me and my work. My hope is that they will help you too.
1. Be sure to organize your photos in more than one way. Make sure one of the ways you do this is by date. Then regularly go back and look at how you were shooting six months ago – a year ago – two years ago. You’ll start to discover how you have improved, what themes have propelled you and what you still need to work on.
2. Pay close attention to the world around you. Live in the moment. Take a few minutes each hour to focus on what you are doing right now. Observe everything around you closely. Make notes. Look at the specifics of light. Take pictures with your mind. This sort of eye awareness and eye training will help you when you have camera in hand.
3. Study music and poetry to get a better understanding of rhythm. Rhythm is important to visual arts too. See how rhythm combined with mood and theme forms your photographic ideas.
4. Be descriptive in your words so that you can become more descriptive in your photography. Writers don’t write about the bell – they write about it ringing. Writers don’t write about the ocean – they write about the waves crashing upon the shore. Writers don’t write about the glass – they write about it shattering. Use this analogy the next time you approach a photographic subject. Maybe it will help you search for a better angle, theme or style.
5. Take pictures without regard for style. Don’t get hung up on defining your style or approach. Don’t label yourself (other than purely for marketing purposes) as JUST a wedding photographer or a food photographer or a landscape photographer. Those labels will eventually apply themselves. That’s not YOUR job. YOUR job is making photographs.
6. Expand your perception. Try to fit things into your thoughts about photography that don’t necessarily fit. Think about the physical, spiritual and scientific realms. Explore foods, music, religions, and cultures you know nothing about. Then think of ways to involve what you learn through your expanded perception exercises into your photography.
7. Allow yourself some false starts. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect the first time you try it. In fact, many great photographs are imperfect period. Perfect is the constant enemy of good. Don’t give up because you can’t shoot the perfect portrait. Allow yourself to make some mistakes. A way to make this even more powerful is to share those mistakes with your peers so that you can help them understand we all struggle with imperfection.