Look up “creature of habit” and you’ll see a picture of me. There I am, doing things the same way over and over again because it works. Funny, isn’t it? But look in the background of that same picture…who is that? It’s YOU!
We all have a tendency to repeat the same actions that we know will get us the results we want. We go around, doing things our tried and true way, because it’s what we know and I think that’s perfectly fine, until we pick up our camera.
When it comes to our photography, tried and true is not often the secret to long term happiness. Sure, we want consistency but we also want to be excited about what we create.
I have a close friend who is an extremely accomplished photographer within his chosen genre. He’s one of those people who has been doing it forever. He is a master at what he does and people hold up his work as some of the best in his field. He’s got the formula down and knows just what to do; where to shoot, when to shoot and where to place his camera.
Guess what? He’s BORED!
In photography we often get to the point where habit gets in our way. For well established photographers, habit can mean that they’ve settled into a rut and aren’t pushing themselves, leading to lack of inspiration. For newer photographers, habit can mean that they aren’t producing images that have that “wow” feel. Both photographers need to change what they’re doing to expand the way they see.
The recipe for growth includes a few ingredients that I write about (or will write about) in this series of posts: Risk, vulnerability, acceptance and changes in behavior.
Change my behavior? Seriously?!?!?!
I can feel you getting uncomfortable at the thought of it and I know what you’re thinking; change is hard! I get it, really, and if that’s your belief then I have a brilliant suggestion: DON’T CHANGE…at first. Seriously, I’m not joking. Start by not changing and it will make change a lot easier.
Let me explain.
We all have our way of approaching a subject of scene. In fact, if you watch someone when they’re photographing they almost seem to be operating out of instinct, simply following the same behavior they always have and achieving the same results along the way. It’s almost as if they can’t stop themselves from doing things the way they do them. If you ask them not to take the shot that speaks to them on that instinctual level it breaks down their whole creative process. Their instinct becomes a barrier to seeing any photo which is different than the one they want to take.
So my advice is to scratch that itch. Take that shot (or shots) that you always take, whether it works or not, and get it out of your system. Now you can move on to new ideas.
Shoot until all the old ideas are out of your system, then take a deep breath and move on to new ideas. Stay as long as it takes, they’ll come. They may not make sense at first. They may not even be all that good but they’ll be different and that’s what matters. Each time you do this you’ll be further down the path to something new and, eventually, it will be clear where you are going.
Now go out there and shoot, and remember:
The best way to come up with new ideas is to run out of old ones.