A photograph is an instrument of love and revelation that must see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live in all things. – Ansel Adams
In the last post I mentioned the lesson of photographing what you love – the one subject or passion that will lead your photography to a deeper level. One of the comments struck a chord with me as I struggled with that for many years (and still do to some extent). My friend Tommy Williams mentioned his frustration about finding that one type of photography or subject that will give that “Ah Ha, this is my passion” moment. That comment inspired this post – thanks Tommy!
I know that finding that passion can be difficult as there are quite a few aspects to it that can influence how you feel.
- You see a photographer whose work blows you away, so naturally you’d like to be that good as well. That has to be the passion, right? It caused an emotional reaction in you – thrilling even. This is more akin to a “crush” or “puppy love” in real life. The problem comes in when you try to duplicate that look and something is missing. You may even spend hundreds or thousands on the same gear that they use, but you still can’t get that same rush, nor the same quality that they do. The crush shatters as you go deeper, just as an infatuation with a person does. There is no magic bullet.
- You find a whole bunch of things that you like and can’t nail down just one. This is like walking down the beach in Ibiza – your eyes are everywhere. A fear of commitment!
- You’ve tried a bunch of things but none of them fulfill you. You get frustrated because you should know this by now. You’re photographing like crazy, see the great work that other people are doing, but none of your photos give you that jolt of inspiration that will propel you down a particular path. The pressure you put on yourself feels like a weight on your shoulders.
Here’s my advice:
First, stop being so hard on yourself. This is supposed to be fun, remember? Even if you’re a pro and having to do the business side of things, it should still be fun otherwise what’s the point? Life’s too short and I’m sure you have enough pressure on other aspects of life for this to become yet another.
Second – PLAY. It’s okay to try new things. Mandatory even. Rent new lenses or cameras from www.lensrentals.com , take a workshop about a topic that you don’t know anything about (not just one that will advance your skills), give yourself fun little exercises to try. Stand in one place and take 20 unique pictures.
Third – stop putting pressure on yourself to become a pro. Not everyone wants to or should be. Do you know most pros spend more than half their time worrying about the business side of things rather than actually taking pictures? Is that what you want or do you just want to do what you love and have it fulfill your creative side?
Fourth: Shoot the pictures that you’d like to have on your walls. YOUR walls, no one else’s. You have complete creative control of your “interior design”, so take the photos that you want to see every day.
Fifth: You wouldn’t buy someone a wedding ring on the first date, would you? When you find something you’re interested in, take it slowly. Don’t rush out and buy tons of gear for every possible scenario regarding that subject. Like a relationship, let it unfold naturally. True love reveals itself over time.
Love comes at you when you’re ready for it, not when you’re driving yourself crazy with stress to find it. So go play, have fun, experiment. And most of all, lighten up on yourself!