Everyone struggles when first jumping into a creative endeavor. For photographers, we struggle to take our vision and translate it through the camera. This struggle has been referred to as the “creative gap” and it’s a process that we’ve all been through.
I thought it would be fun to create an article where we could showcase some of our incredible artists. We’ll show you where they started and where they are today. Pay attention as each will also provide a tip and guidance on what has helped them in their journey.
The big problem when you start as a photographer is that you want to be recognized as soon as possible, now, most of the new photographers want to find shortcuts and formulas for getting to that point quicker but the reality, the market, the truth is just one, if you want your work to be recognizable, you have to work hard every day!
Patience, constant education, practice all days (not just on weekends), complement your knowledge in different fields that help your business (not just the creative fun part), and never NEVER stop learning! As someone says, “this is a marathon, not a short run”.
The fastest way to grow as a photographer is to find photos you love and recreate them. Don’t be afraid to copy. Learn how it’s done and then start to mix elements from different images and different photographers into one. From here, you’ll start to develop your own voice based on a foundation inspired by your peers. In the words of Isaac Newton “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants”
Keep shooting, studying blogs, educational courses, reach out to photogs you admire and ask to shadow them. Study the photos you like and try and reverse engineer the lighting. Keep shooting and when you think you have created what you want. Scrap it and keep shooting some more.
We learn through thrashing and doing, then reflecting and refining with unstoppable integrity. After each shoot take time to organize your thoughts in a dedicated journal about what worked and didn’t work and how you can make it better. Study others but also become your own mentor. Consistent subtle shifts in skills and perceptions will put you on the fast track. In the words of Ryan Holiday. “The avenue of the final discipline is the Will. If perception and action are the disciplines of the mind and the body, then Will is the discipline of the heart and the soul.”
Being brave and getting in there! Learning over time that capturing photos so that the viewer will feel like they were there is more powerful. Remind yourself you are photographing for their kids and grandkids. Really for the people not even born yet who will someday look at their ancestors. Remembering to layer, to tell the whole story and compose and wait!!!!
Developing the confidence to direct people and “create” an image rather than just showing up and shooting the first thing you see has made a huge difference in the quality of my images. Being able to say with authority, “Let’s add a light in here, let’s move some stuff out of the background, I’m going to climb up on this step stool I brought or lay on the ground in the dirt because I want to try this from a different angle, could you change into a different shirt? Try posing like this instead…” I’m not just a photographer, I’m a producer and director, too. And that just comes from experience. You have to get out there and shoot a million images to get better.”
Surround yourself with a strong, honest, community of working professionals. Never stop learning. Put down that camera and let yourself experience things. Shooting doesn’t always equal “seeing”. Listen to music, read a poem, go out in nature, watch a classic film, visit a museum. Making yourself curious makes you a better creative and artist and lends itself to the purest form of inspiration.
I admire so many talented creatives, but there’s one photographer that stands out to me creatively I hired him and asked him to treat my family and I like any other normal client.
I wanted to put myself in my client’s shoes. I tried hard not to think about lenses, settings, or lighting. I loved the creative out-of-the-box portraits that he captured. Those photos went on to win awards and be featured. However, the ones that were really meaningful to me were ways that he made photos out of simple moments. He was observant of the little things – the interactions that make my family special. I always try to remember this when I get stuck in a creative rut!
The main thing that has worked for me and I recommend it is to practice, practice, and more practice. Practice and you will develop your creativity. You do not even need your camera, you can try to look for the light or a nice composition everywhere you go, so put your cellphone away and go practice.
I had just started dabbling in off-camera-flash photography and thought, “What better way to test out this new photography tool than at my friend’s wedding?” It was my first paid wedding job and it was the biggest eye-opener. I did not know how to properly use the tools I had at my disposal.
Fast forward to many weddings later…years of workshops, mentorships, trial and error…I’ve learned to be familiar and intentional with the tools I use, thinking about what I’m trying to achieve, and then choosing which tool will help me get the best final product.
Understanding light, learning composition and focusing on meaningful, real and timeless content in my images, has helped me tremendously to shape my work. It is more consistent and gives me very clear guidelines on what to shoot on a wedding day.
Be patient with yourself, and never stop learning! If you are constantly striving to learn new concepts and techniques, within just a few years you’ll have accomplished many of your goals. As Gary Vee regularly says, we need “macro patience and micro speed”. Maximize your productivity right now by determining and doing what matters most each and every day.