Stretch Yourself Creatively
Sometimes I find that I become a tad complacent with my photography. Why? Complacency is comfortable. It is like curling up in an old leather recliner with a blanket that your aunt crocheted for you a dozen Christmases ago! It feels warm and safe!
The problem with complacency is that you can get bored, fall into a photographic rut, or worse, stop shooting. That is why I try to push myself to try something different whenever I feel like I might be heading down this path.
Finding Your Artistic Vision.
Two weeks ago, I participated in Karen Hutton’s Artistic Voice Workshop, where I put myself way out of my comfort zone. And I mean really way out! The workshop was not about techniques or how to use gear. No, it was about how to look inward and find your artistic vision. We shot a lot of landscapes, but also captured architecture, food, and even did some street photography. In a nutshell, the workshop was about how to see better, regardless of the genre of photography you were shooting. The experience pushed me to stretch my creativity.
There were several techniques Karen presented to us to help us see more organically. Now I am not a touchy-feely kind of person. I am very scientific and analytical. So, practicing these techniques felt awkward, silly, and even a bit embarrassing at first. Kind of like how I felt when I participated in my first yoga class! But I had told myself when I signed up for Karen’s course, that I would fully immerse myself in it. I went in with a completely open mind. On a side note, yoga and I do not get along! I can stretch my mind, but not my body!
I came away realizing how important it is to ground myself and clear my mind of all the clutter that floats through it. I learned how to breathe properly. And most importantly, I learned how to become present. I didn’t think about what I should have done yesterday, or about the long list of things I need to accomplish when I got home. Instead, I concentrated on what I was doing at that moment, how I was feeling, and what my senses were observing. What was I seeing, smelling, hearing and feeling? Once I did this, I was amazed at how much more I could see. It felt like my camera became an extension of my imagination. Creating images that resonated with me became much easier. I may have looked silly stomping my legs so that I could feel my feet root themselves on terra firma. And, I may have looked like I was in a trance when I closed my eyes and took deep breaths in the middle of the forest. But by golly, these techniques worked for me.
Open Your Mind, Stretch Yourself Creatively.
So mix it up, try approaching your photography from a new perspective. Whether you challenge yourself to use nothing but a wide-angle lens for a week, or shoot a genre that you have never tried before. Go out on a limb and try something new. Sure, it will feel awkward at first. But in the end, you will be amazed at how a little bit of discomfort forces you to see things in new ways.
Here are the images I came home with from the workshop. Paralleling my last post, “Photograph What You Love,” this collection of images covers a wide range of genres. Happy shooting and cheers until next time.