The above is a question I'm sure many photographers have asked themselves over the years. Every now and then we seem to hit a point where we feel our growth stagnates, we wonder how we can get over the next 'bump' and continue to grow and develop both with our art and personally. He are a few tips that personally I have found to help over recent times:
1. Shoot something different!
If you have always shot portraits - spend a week shooting nothing but landscapes or nature. Yes it might not feel right or you may not get as much enjoyment out of this new medium but it will kick start your brain into thinking differently, composing differently, exposing differently.
If you find yourself only photographing landscapes or nature - push your camera in front of someones face (not literally, that may come across a bit rude!) However, take portraits for a week or a month - think about how to convey the individual persons personality you are shooting.
|Port Villa Food Markets - I spent 90% of this day focusing (literally) on Portraits|
2. Pick up / Borrow a different brand of camera
Now this may mean putting your grudges against Nikon aside if you are a Canon user (or visa versa). Or this may even mean picking up a 'point and shoot' that has been sitting in the back of your cupboard ever since you purchased your new fancy DSLR. It may even be, shock of all shocks, your simple ever so basic iPhone that you take everywhere. By using a new camera that we are not familiar with or is even not as good as our trusty DSLR - it forces us to look at our subject and environment in a new light.
|Who says you need a fancy expensive camera to capture interesting images? (Taken with an iPhone at Southbank Parklands, Brisbane)|
3. Think before you click
We all know once we started to want to learn more about photography it took us longer to 'get' that image. We had to think about our depth of field (DOF), our exposure, our shutter speed, ISO and last but not least composition. How many of you have actually planned a shot in your head or even sketched the image on paper you wanted to capture before you even picked up your camera? Visualizing the image we are setting out to achieve helps us 'compose' the image correctly in our heads and lessens the time playing around with our settings when we are on location.
|Sometimes when you have a particular image in mind, you just have to sit and wait for it to happen........|
4. Find yourself a mentor
A good mentor should inspire you, push you far beyond your comfort zone and be honest with their critique of your images - you need to know where you are going wrong in order to learn and grow. Also try to find a mentor who likes taking the type of images you do eg: Landscapes/Natural Light Portraiture
5. Stop relying on your gear to get you through.Similar to point 2 in that we quite often get too comfortable with the equipment we have. Those that love being in the great outdoors shooting landscapes will know that your tripod will never stay at home or even in the car boot. It's there, ready to assist us in getting a nice steady image or soft silky water with our long exposures. But what happens when you don't have your tripod or shock of all shocks get told you can't take one with you? One of my roles with Bluedog Photography is taking a group of photographers up onto the Brisbane Story Bridge Adventure Climb. The only Bridge Climb in the world, yes the WORLD, where you can take your cameras up with you. On this climb you are unable to take your tripod both for safety reasons and you'll notice once you get up there, the bridge wobbles around enough that a tripod isn't going to have much effect. So while up there, we are forced to think about our shutter speed in a new light. Do we open up our aperture and sacrifice our DOF in order to let more light in once the sun starts to set. Do we say let's not worry about noise tonight and crank up the ISO to allow us to handhold and still capture some amazing light trails as the cars zoom across the bridge oblivious to a bunch of keen photographers leaning over, resting our gear on the railings and holding our breaths while we attempt our first long exposure without a tripod?
|Long exposures are difficult without a tripod but hey, it's fun to give it a go!|
6. Just Do It!Last but not least, take the well used phrase from that shoe company (what is their name again??) and just get out there and do it. Pick up your camera regularly, take images, self critique, show someone and get their feedback good or bad. You will never grow in life whatever your chosen path or interest without being regularly active in that field........