“A man grows most tired while standing still.”— Chinese Proverb
Once you reach as certain level of photographic skill—please see my post about “Phases of a Photographer’s Development”—we all have a tendency to become complacent and keep making the same image over and over again. Why not? You know how to make them and every time you shoot a new one people on the forums and at your camera club say that you’re a master. Paul Simon once said that talent evolves, changes and grows over time. Take his own career, for example, “Sound of Silence” doesn’t sound anything like “Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes.”
When I was a student at the Maryland Institute, College of Art, one of my professors gave an assignment to photograph “people we know and people we didn’t know.” At that time I wasn’t a people photographer and the thought of photographing strangers terrified me. But I gave it a shot because it forced me out of my comfort zone.
Try it yourself. If you’re a landscape photographer, go downtown or a to busy location and do street photography. Get some ideas from looking at work by one of the masters such as Joel Meyerowitz. If you’re a people photographer, try photographing dogs getting inspiration from shooters such as Elliott Erwitt. Look at these photographers work and force yourself to step outside your favorite genre and make other kinds of pictures.
An amazing thing will happen if only slowly at first; your pictures will get better and better and you’ll start to enjoy the experience. For a related post, please read Mark Toal’s “Finding Vivian Maier; Finding Yourself” at our sister blog, Mirrorless Photo Tips.
Along with photographer Barry Staver, Joe is co-author of Better Available Light Digital Photography that’s now out-of-print but new copies are available at collector (high) prices or used copies for less than seven bucks from Amazon.