There comes a time in every creative person's life where you hit a wall.
You know your craft and you know it well. But you feel like there is something missing. You go through the motion of (in my case) taking someone's portrait but you feel like there could be so much more.
You feel like you're in a rut. And in my case, I didn't even want to pick up my camera. What do you do?
You can look at composition and technical stuff. Certainly they are important in creating good photographs. But how do you create something with meaning?
How do you find your voice, your perspective, and create an emotional connection for the viewer, or even a connection yourself?
Your photographs (your craft) reveal your view of the world. For example, if you put six photographers in a room and ask each of them to create a unique image, each photograph will be unique. Why is that? Because we each see the world in our own unique way.
So how do you separate yourself from the technical nature of photography?
You have skills from tutorials, articles, classes, workshops, online videos, webpages, life experience, etc., and they are still there in the back of your mind. You know your way around your camera, and you know your location's lighting and favorite spots to shoot pictures. But how do you find your own voice or your style of shooting?
By setting all that aside, you need to learn a new way of photographing, a new way of looking at the world around you. That will take dedication and hard work. Sounds scary I know. But if photography is what you are passionate about, you have to step out and find your niche. Find what really makes your heart full.
I'd like to offer a suggestion on how to find your passion again.
Find a photo challenge that interests you. A photo challenge or assignment is a way to test out your technical and artistic sides, combined to create a homework assignment that others can look at and critique. Maybe they see something you didn't or maybe they see something that compels them to visit the site of the photography shoot.
Pick something that takes you out of your comfort zone and challenges your knowledge as a photographer while also providing you with ideas to incorporate into your own work. Even entering a photo contest, pushing you outside of your computer comfort zone can help.
By using your photography education, and putting it into practice you are making your brain think outside the box. Play with shutter speeds, use your flash, or shoot nothing but black and white. Do something different. It finally makes sense that you need to know these skills to create something with more meaning, something that makes you remember why you picked up a camera in the first place.
You need to learn it all, test it all, and learn different styles. Then you can start to see your style peeping through, opening your mind to new thoughts and ideas. You can find different challenges on blogs and there are even some on Pinterest.
Networking is another good way to get out of a slump. There are photo clubs online and in most communities.
This year I am making an effort to learn more about the photographers in my area and joining a photography club near where I live. I want to grow and I want to help others grow as well.
Let me challenge you to show me what "Cold" looks like. It can be a photo of anything that is cold, looks cold or just makes you think of cold. Here is my example. I'll keep you all posted on how that advice works for me!
Till next time!