Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Time In The Flowers...

"Eating Up The Sunshine"

When was the last time you sat down and reviewed your own work? A deliberate breakdown of what still works, and what has to change before you become stale or appear as if you aren't growing. Deciding what's unique to you, what you'll never change or what your images will always challenge. It's not on our list of the top ten things we enjoy about photography, but when I first started out as a photographer it was a practice I saw being mentioned constantly. But it's been a while since I've heard of anyone actively doing this, so I wanted to mention it today. I even reviewed my own recent work with a critical eye and mind set from my trip to our local perennial gardens, and thought I'd share what I found about my own journey into photography so far....

1) I go with my visual gut every time. And I get consistent results. Sure, I try to use guidelines and principles as my jumping off point for framing up a subject or view... but that's where it stops. If I'm forever trying to shoot within the rules, then I smother the creativity attempting to explore itself and expand itself. Take the above photo for instance. I know it's said that most scenes are better responded to when the viewer can explore the image from left to right... but this one doesn't need to work that way, your eye acknowledges that there's enough to balance out the left with the right side foreground subject. My natural eye didn't flip the scene in the garden before it felt interesting. So don't compromise what excites you for what's considered a normal practice. Sometimes the opposite is the best choice. Not every time, but often enough.

2) My best work is always grounded solely in who I am. I admire many different styles and approaches of photography and digital darkroom. But my art suffers when I try to emulate them too closely in an attempt to remain trendy. This isn't to be confused with choosing to remain stagnant or never grow in my craft, it's a choosing to make sure that when people see my images, they know without a doubt they're mine. There should be telltale signs. I love rich color, I love design elements and height in my B&W's, I love close, low perspectives, I always go for simple shapes and negative space to emphasize nature at it's best. These are tools that stem from my personal approach. If I deny that, my work will never really be mine. And for heavens sake, if you're out there mentoring another photographer, stick to critiquing on skill, not style. You don't want a Mini Me, you want to be able to call them on practices that affect how they shoot and work, not how the end result looks or feels. That should always be uniquely theirs.

3) I still have some stretching to do. I've told myself I need to get back into some street photography and more portraits to hone some skills I've left for too long. Flowers are a great confidence booster, there's no pressure to perform, you can take all the time you want, and you don't have to come out of your shell to talk to them. But if I want to use my photography in the real world I need to be fast with sizing up great light, flattering angles, and anticipating revealing moments... so time to get out of the gardens and into some projects where I'm still learning. Low light is on my radar for self improvement, as is more intimate portraits done right on the street within the community. I'm also still learning how to do a proper panorama, and adjusting B&W portraits for a better, more subtle wow factor.  These are all weak areas that need improvement and I'm not afraid to say it.

I have made a regular habit of peeling apart my little rambles, and sizing up what works and what gets neglected... it gets easier every time I do it. Go back to your last shoot and observe who you currently are behind the lens. It's always revealing!

Thanks for the ramble, and have a super day friends!!!

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