Friday, October 30, 2009

Setting expectations for yourself as a photographer

I set such high expectations of myself that sometimes after I shoot a wedding I have some doubt that I did not reach them. I feel like this keeps me sharp and pushing myself to be better. Going through every image and toning them helps alleviate some of this. Maybe because what I saw did not materialize until I actually created and toned the image to what I saw (If that makes sense). Maybe it's because I just don't look at what I've done until after everything is over. It's always somewhat of a relief and excitement as the images begin to take shape, but I still keep it in the back of my mind that I can do better.

I look at some images and wish I had tried a different angle or see something that i missed while I was there. I hope that all photographers are doing this. If you think you saw everything, then you definitely missed something. Many times I will try to step into another photographers shoes and ask how they might have seen it, suddenly a different picture will come forward that I am sure wasn't there when I was actually in the room.

Pushing yourself as a photographer can be tough sometimes. Sometimes you get into a groove that is comfortable. When I worked in newspapers I would see a lot of photographers who fell into this groove. They were amazing when they were young, but as they got comfortable their photography became basic. Staying out of this groove can be a huge challenge.

After six years at a newspaper I could see some myself sliding into that groove. Life starts to get in the way of being creative and it's relaxing sometimes to not think terribly hard about making a photo. I guess in some ways it was good that I was thrown a curve-ball and now I'm back on my toes.

I try to set my expectations of myself much higher than any of my clients. This way if I ever fall below my expectations, I am still producing amazing work that people are happy with. On the other hand it can be frustrating when you don't feel like you did as good as you thought you could.

My biggest fear in photography is that I will fall in that groove that I've slipped into, not enjoy what I'm doing as much, and not be able to get back out. This career is a job, and if you're not careful it will become a job. I want to go to my grave with a camera in my hand and enjoying it.

I hope to take every step possible to keep myself out of the groove and keep shooting fresh and different. Some of this includes going back to the basics, such as film or even a Polaroid camera. Challenging yourself to shoot something red, a picture of a hand, or make a photo every day. These are just a few of the things to keep you sharp.

What do you do to keep yourself out of the groove?

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