September 21, 2011
As professional photographers we often work on projects that we are not personally invested in. It’s much easier to create great work when it is a subject/situation you are really engaged with. So how do we cultivate personal investment?
The excitement of producing a stunning image is the lure that attracts most people to photography. To create images for yourself, at your own pace, is an enormously fulfilling pastime but the reality of making a living as a photographer is a totally different kettle of fish. It’s an extraordinarily competitive field and as a profession it’s really challenging even for the truly passionate. I have met a quite a few professionals who have no desire to pick up a camera out of hours.
Bedford truck shot under a full moon.
I have made a conscious decision that every time I pick up a camera I have a unique opportunity to create a folio piece! The number of really strong images at my disposal will be proportional to the amount of effort I put into each and every shoot. Also, the better my images are in general the more choice I have to tailor portfolios for specific jobs.
The by-product of making strong images is huge personal satisfaction.
Tri-cone Resonator guitar made by Donmo
Working within the parameters necessary for each job I have made a conscious choice to approach the task as a personal challenge to try to go one better than previous shoots. By consistently making powerful images I build a sense of excitement and find I am fulfilling the desire that got me into photography in the first place. I’m maintaining, even building, the enthusiasm that I have for shooting.
Photography is a “doing” word
It’s the doing that is crucial. That’s the essence of what got us on this journey in the first place. Having personal projects that are solely about your vision is another important factor to keep in touch with your creativity. You may have an outcome like an exhibition or a book but if not, don’t be afraid to get into it just for the pleasure of the task.
Fennel shot in the garden in natural light.
Mark out times in your diary in advance and try to keep them free to get out and shoot. It’s important to put something back into your creativity reservoir. The act of taking an idea and making it into a photograph tends to lead you to the next idea or even a whole raft of ideas. It pays to keep up the momentum.
Try to be present in the act of shooting, regardless of the subject matter, and thus make the activity special. Look for the magic. If you have an opportunity to take photographs, push to do the best work you are capable of. It’s easy to forget how inspiring it is to make a beautiful photograph.
Sometimes when you are in the thick of it, it is hard to see the gift that being a photographer is. Consider the alternatives. If your job means you have a camera in your hands you are very, very lucky.
This is my take, what methods can you share about how you sustain your passion and nourish your craft?
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Images and text © Andy Rasheed 2011
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