Finding your niche in art is rewarding, but it can also restrict your ability to create great things beyond your specialty. Having a comfort zone where you can perform tasks consistently well is fine, but comfort reduces your motivation to improve. There are about 30 types of photographers, each with different strengths and equally great outputs. Whichever type of photographer you are, there’s always room to get better. And a guaranteed way to improve your art is to escape your comfort zone.
Photography isn’t a simple process, each photographer is an artist who paints an image with the camera as their brush. As JayLynn Studios puts it, photography isn’t just a point and shoot process, the best photography is artwork. Here’s how you can escape the point and shoot process and take better pictures:
Try Street Photography
Street photography is more than just going to a crowded place and taking pictures of strangers. You’re forced to use your surroundings and interact with people to create an engaging image. There’s no script or schedule. You’re challenged to be decisive in your shots. This is because you need to use natural light and constantly moving subjects, all while trying to maintain perfect composition.
Shooting on the streets pushes you to be minimalistic not only in your shots but in the gear you use as well. Since you need to be discreet, you don’t need to bring multiple lenses or flashes. A mirrorless camera with a prime lens will serve you well. Even your phone will do if you want to capture a moment and you don’t have your camera with you.
The convenience of digital photography is what makes it a crutch for die-hard film enthusiasts. And to some degree, they’re right. Shooting with film compels you to think about your shots more because you only have a small number of them per roll, as compared to the seemingly unlimited ones you can take on digital.
Editing software like Lightroom and apps like VSCO are all dominated with filter packs meant to make your pictures look like they’re shot on film. This is why there’s a resurgence in film photography; you can’t imitate the look and feel of a film photo digitally. You can find inexpensive film SLRs and rolls on sites like eBay and vintage camera shops. If you’re a fan of retro filters, you might as well try the real thing.
Photograph a Sports Game
The fast-paced action of games like basketball or hockey is challenging for any new photographer to shoot. Sports photography is more than just finding the right settings and using burst mode to get a still image. Capturing iconic moments in games requires a trained eye.
If you’re used to capturing still images, sports photography can help you break out of your mold. Like street photography, you need to be decisive in your sports shots. Your subjects are always moving, and the amount of action going on can be overwhelming. Before going into a game, try looking at iconic sports photos throughout the years and see what you can add to your style. Their shots are filled with emotion between the players, their teams, and their audience.
Letting go of what you’re used to isn’t easy, especially when it comes to your craft. But it’s a road that you’re going to take one way or another as a photographer. It can be as simple as going out of the studio and capturing life as it progresses on your street or at your local basketball game. Once you take this first step, you’ll find that it’s easier to push your boundaries in the future. Your photo archive will no longer look like a compilation of the same style over and over. It will be a timeline, with each picture being a testament to your evolution as a photographer.