One of the toughest barriers before a photographer could be the fear of exploring new grounds... new themes, new subjects. In this second part of my search for inspiration I'll give more attention to the issue of what I call one's comfort zone and how that affects creativity, productivity, as well as growth in skills.
Get out of your comfort zone! Now!
I know some of you can stand up and say that you are well experienced in art and stock photography. I can't. I'm still a learner (and try to remain one). :) What I've discovered in this state of mine is that getting stuck to one theme or topic really affects my productivity. I've experienced already several times that when I push myself out of my comfort zone I find inspiration
and develop new skills.
How do I do that? Well, as first step I try to find out where I feel comfortable - which theme is my "home." My first "home" was nature - I simply felt that I can only take good shots of nature. This is also partly due to the fact that I was surrounded by easily accessible and varying nature
. So, it was actually easy for me to use this as an excuse and only shoot where it's easiest. Now, impressive nature shots are not as easy to take, plus it's difficult to develop a significant portfolio only with nature shots.
Second step - stay away from "home" and immerse yourself into new stuff
. But do it one step at a time until you feel confident enough. Trying to learn several new themes or styles at the same time will not work with most people.
As I was feeling so comfortable with my nature shots I used to look at isolated objects on Dreamstime and wonder if I would ever be able to do that with, at least, an average quality. Well, it didn't happen overnight. :) I had to sit behind the camera, set up an acceptable lighting solution and experiment, experiment, experiment
. Notice that I uploaded very little in the beginning. It actually took several months until I developed a sense and some more understanding about the lighting and backgrounds for isolated objects. Add to that also composition. In all this time I tried hard to stay away from nature shots until I've learned to do better in the light box.
The good sequence for me was: a) getting the technical quality right , b) getting the right subjects to shoot for stock, and c) getting a good composition which also carries along a concept. It might work differently with you, but I hope this is also helpful.
This is how isolated objects became my new home, the new home which I had to leave at one point, in order to continue developing both my skills, and the variety in my portfolio. Now came the people. One particular obstacle for me concerning people shots always was the fact that I cannot simply arrange people as I can objects in the light box. However, I knew that if there is one theme missing in my portfolio - this was it
. At first I always used the lack of a studio as an excuse, then the lack of optimal lighting... However, an in-depth search among the people shots revealed that various (and not always optimal in conditions!) settings can make a good environment for people shots. So I took on the journey to only discover more and more inspiration and excitement that I'm finding a new home! :)
I don't know what is your current "home theme", nor do I know what all your fears are of getting into something totally new to your photography experience. What I do know for sure, however, is that you have the potential to develop in new areas even when you don't necessarily see it right now.
What was most striking to me was the amount of new creative ideas I received while experimenting with each of these new subjects. So I challenge you now to define your current comfort zone, as well as what you feel not so secure at. Begin experimenting one step at a time and be patient. Don't upload your first attempts, but review them over time and think about the various aspects of the image (eg. technical, composition, concept, usability, appeal, etc.)... And keep shooting more... Welcome to your new home!