Ask yourself this, as a creative do you want to be successful, as creative as possible and an inspiration to others or alternatively, someone who creates the same images week in week out? In the creative industry, especially photography, there is a fine line between a well defined style and constantly creating the same work in your portfolio. Of course, creative jobs require you to replicate certain things, and once you complete the basics/the client’s requirements, you could rest easy knowing the job is done. The beauty of working in the creative industry is the freedom to express yourself and experiment with your work, for me, it’s what keeps me snapping photographs.
Let’s talk photography for a minute, in particular wedding photography. Once I learnt my trade through education and assisting, I was ready to start a business in the wedding photography industry. So before I crossed the line and began to take risks I had a few things in the bag, a passion to break the mould of ‘traditional’ wedding photography, a consistent portfolio of creative wedding images and of course lots of smiling couples who want me to capture their big day. It’s important you have these foundations and consider your next moves; as a creative you always have to be adding to your bag of skills or it’s likely your inspiration will dry out. Adding new skills comes through taking risks and putting yourself out there, you should be attempting new poses, experimenting with your camera settings, taking on test shoots, exploring how you share your work with your audience and much much more. I don't always succeed when I try something new, and failure could easily scare a few people, but failure is what keeps me on my toes and pushes me to try new things.
Your Comfort Zone
Taking risks is all about leaving your comfort zone, and if you’re not sure what your comfort zone is, ask yourself what you create the most, combine that with your portfolio and you will probably have the answer. Anyone who is familiar with my portfolio will know my comfort zone sits somewhere near Bright Colours, Happy Couples and a Grainy Film Effect. I’ve recently challenged my comfort zone by capturing more images without natural light, you may have noticed the recent night shots in my wedding portfolio. During winter months wedding photographers have a shorter amount of time to work with daylight, therefore you’ve got to stray outside of the comfort zone and experiment with artificial light and off & on camera flash. The sparkler shots are something I certainly haven't tried my hand at before, and yes of course I’m not the first person to try this, but it’s one of the first times I had tried it, which is what is important. I love the collections of shots I’ve captured using a combination of dragging the shutter and a high ISO, something I very rarely did. If I hadn't made the effort to leave my comfort zone I would never have added this to my portfolio or known I could achieve amazing results.
So what should you take away from this post? Well to start making your mark on the creative industry you need a well developed and recognisable portfolio, and a good skill set in your bag. To really make your mark you need to push yourself and encourage your image making development. Rather than playing safe throughout your career and applying the same formula, take risks and explore the skills, it will not only keep you inspired but it will also keep your audience glued to your portfolio.
Do you step outside of your comfort zone? Do you enjoy taking risks?