‘Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection’
When I accidentally became a photographer 12 years ago, where did that go..?! I was immediately in awe of the craft at the highest levels (I still ‘am.!), I’d spend hour upon many, many more hours in front of a computer screen, cup of tea or glass of beer in hand, extensively browsing the wonderfully diverse and occasionally wild online photography world.
I discovered a wide range of photographers and their work, I’d examine photographs intently, trying to dissect how it was shot; what lighting was used, why that composition, how has it been edited, why it ‘worked’ as a finished image, or why it didn’t. I’d look at competition images all the time, asking why has that shot been awarded and that one not.
At times, I hold my hands up, I wouldn’t have a ruddy Scooby Doo….! Looking at the ‘top’ work, the very best images, I just didn’t have the skills and knowledge to understand how the finished results had been created, I has blown away at times and at times felt like they were images I just would never be able to produce, so almost what was the point.
However, I was hooked on photography and I decided to just try and learn as much as possible bit by bit and continue to, however slowly, improve. I started to consume as much information as I could, gathering up techniques with a unquenchable thirst to improve, constantly wanting the images I produced to be better than the last ones I shot, while also trying new things with no fear of failure.
Gradually over the months and years, less and less of the images I looked at while on my browsing escapades I wouldn’t know how it was shot. I still may not have had the skills to work to that level, but I could start to understand the techniques used to create these mysterious master pieces.
As my career progressed, working in studios and teams of photographers pushed my improvement as a photographer further. I’ve been fortunate to work alongside a number of super talented and hard-working photographers over the years and so during these times have been on steep learning curves that have jumped my work up a couple of levels.
However, when working for yourself it’s a little different, it can be tough to keep that learning mentally going while you have to also run a business, which I’ve been doing for nearly six years now – again, where did that go..?!
It can be hard to continue to push to improve when, well to be honest, your work is selling, do you really need get better?
Life also progresses, at 38, thankfully I now have a lot more responsibility than at 26, a house, a beautiful fiancee (twit-twoooooo!), two young, amazingly awesome and occasionally unbelievable tiring children and so it’s understandable that that desire to pour everything into one passion that is your work and main driving force will fade and so it should, balance is needed.
With all this in mind, of late I’ve been asking & answering myself;
I’m I a better photographer than when I started BWP…? = 100% yes!
I’m I a better photographer than 3 years ago..? = Yes, in some areas certainly, some new editing skills and more efficient in the studio, although similar overall standard.
I’m I a better photographer than 18 months ago..? = Erm, maybe, a few new, nice images in the portfolio, but probably not anything really much better than before.
So, I’m the finished article as a photographer, I can’t get any better..? = No way dude..!! You’re ok all in all, but still no-where near where you could get to if you keep improving bit by bit.
Do I still want to get better? = Yes.
How do I get out of this closed mind-set and back into the open, learning mind-set?
And that’s the current mission, to rekindle that constant learning mind-set, pushing to improve bit by bit so every-time I pick up the camera I know I’m going to produce work better than I have before.
So, this last week, I’ve been spending time finding photographers I didn’t know about who’s work excites me, again consuming technique tutorials with an open mind and not looking and thinking, no point, I know how to do that.
And, it’s working, I can feel the photography buzz coming back, I’m excited for up coming shoots, trying new things, pushing just to continue to make little improvements – however small.
So, here’s to life/work balance, to improvement, to passions and to creating some kick -ass photos…!!!