Happiness for me is the ability to be resilient to uncertainty.
And, in order to be resilient to uncertainty, you have to face the changes.
We all live in a comfort zone, an area in which we feel safe and comfortable. We don’t like what’s outside this comfort area, because it makes us feel inadequate and not safe. The further something is from our comfort zone, the more we feel uncomfortable when it comes to doing that action. The good news is that more often we venture out there, even if only for small steps, the bigger this zone becomes, including things that frightened us before. With the habit, these things become familiar and, finally, they’re included in our comfort zone.
The same thing happens with photography.
When we stick ourselves with a photographic genre, we snub other types of photography because they make us feel inadequate. We close ourselves in our niche and we stay away from the types of shooting that we don’t know.
But growth lies in change.
The tide of life has often led me, in the past, to change my photographic genre and that was one of the best things that could happen to me. When you approach a completely new photographic genre, you start from scratch, without preconceptions and you’re forced to see the world with a new look.
When I moved from landscape photography to cat photography for catteries, I knew how to photograph a cat, because I had literally made thousands of shots to my Baloo. But I had no idea how to use flashes, that were required for good pro cat photographies. I was terrified of not being able to set and use strobe lights properly. So I started studying the use of artificial lighting with the strobist technique through a really well done web tutorial (you can find the link here). That experience has terribly improved the way I photograph, because it allowed me to know a technique without which, simply, you cannot take certain photographs.
Since then, I use to commit myself, for some periods, in photographic genres that are unknown lands to me. Astrophotography. Street portraits. Events. Sports photography. Etc. For example in this period I would love to go deeper into travel photography.
What I feel to share with you today, dear friend, is this: try, every now and then, when you feel that creativity languishes and that new ideas are missing, to commit yourself in a completely new genre for you. Explore this unknown territory: I can hardly explain the benefits this will bring to your shots.
This does not only concern the photographic genre, but, more generally, your way of being a photographer.
One of the quickest ways to grow as a photographer is trying to be, once in a while, a completely different photographer.
Explore your limits and venture into unexplored lands.
Have you ever taken pictures of landscapes? Take your car or jump on a train and go to some nice places near to where you live and to take some pictures of the landscape.
Have you ever experimented with long exposures? Try mounting an ND filter in front of your lens and experiment.
Have you never used a flash? Get a simple hot shoe flash (like this), an umbrella, a stand…and make attempts.
Do you always use telephoto lenses? Enter the fascinating territory of the wide-angle ones.
Once in a while, be a totally different photographer.
And in the end you will discover that you have become a better photographer.
Vincent CORBIERE says
Thank you for these nice commentaries.
I also find that autocritique
– although one of the most difficult process- helps to engage toward new directions. Some of these new directions are very surprising and exciting.
I also constantly look at famous photographers work. I know there is always a lot to learn from that.
Have a good day.
Marco Benini says
It would be a lot interesting to define “autocritique”, because there’s a very narrow line between being objective towards our own works and being too self-destructive, to the limit of perfectionism.
About famouse photographers’ works…I definitely agree with you.
Thank you for the comment!