Experimentation is key to growing your photography
One of a photographers biggest hurdles is to constantly challenge ourselves in order for our photography to grow. We tend to find favorite subjects, settings, lenses and techniques because we have become comfortable with the outcome. The only trouble with that is your portfolio, no matter how many images you shoot becomes predictable and perhaps repetitive. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important for any artist to develop their distinct style but that doesn’t mean that you can’t challenge yourself with new and different techniques as it will only better what you love to do the most in your art. This is true at any level of proficiency and isn’t limited to simply taking images but also includes using new and different gear like lenses, filters and techniques and goes all the way to your image processing.
A big way I learn to challenge myself is to take particular note to the works of others who inspire me. Sometimes I may try to emulate either their style or outcome. What happens is hardly ever copying them but rather developing a new way of approaching the process. This almost always involves some level of frustration and failure but the result of the challenge and discovery by the attempts almost always results in victories that show in your own distinct style of photography even if only in some small shape or form.
Take inspiration in others and challenge yourself with new and different techniques.
Recently, while preparing for a workshop I was giving I was reminded of a phrase that photography actually meant “painting with light”. It occurred to me that many of the images we see are so literal. I searched images that were more figurative and discovered some that I really liked and just started to quickly play with some different techniques like longer exposures, motion blurs and alike to create something a little different in subjects that I often like to photograph but have never approached in this way.
I’ll continue to do so and try to incorporate some of the things I’ve discovered into both my professional and personal work. You can too.