December 5, 2011

Inside Scoop | 5 Lessons to become a better photographer

Oh blog, please forgive me!  I went through the whole month of November and completely spaced on getting an Inside Scoop up.   So, to make it up to you, I will be doing two installments this month! Hooray!



1.  Keep your self inspired!

Recently, I went through a creative block.  Think of it like writer's block but for the creative person.  Yes, I made up the term, but its fitting for what I'm going to talk about.  I went through a slump and was feeling completely uninspired.  Before I could sulk in my non creativeness, I realized that inspiration was all around me.  In the form of books, in my sketchbook that I post clippings in, movies, the world outside, and other creative people.  And the flickering light bulb finally turned on.  Like it's little 100 watt life depended on it.  

When you feel like you're in a slump creatively, just take a second to stop focusing on the slump part and get back to the creative part.  Get online, Google is your friend.  Watch your favorite movie.  Look through old magazines.  And when nothing seems to work, go out and get yourself a coffee and people watch.  Yeah, I went there.  You never know when someone, something will spark your imagination. 


2.  Take a break.

This is crucial in any life situation.  Taking a break can help you recharge your batteries, get your mind off a stressful situation, and allow you to breath easier.  Too often, people do too much and they end up feeling stressed, unrested, and then they get crabby.  Don't allow yourself to get crabby.  

Breaks for me usually consist of prying myself away from the computer and going downstairs.  Far away from the "ping" of my inbox.  I also make sure to go outside at least once.  Working from home can mean long hours in front of the monitor, hours of music humming, and going cross eyed.  It is easy to not walk outside.  But do it.  The fresh air will help you relax and enjoy the day.  Even if you're at the office all day.  Talk a walk outside.  Away from the noise, the reminders, the to-do list, and maybe your co-workers.


3.  Write down your goals.

I like lists.  I make lists for everything.  Packing, groceries, wedding prep lists, I even have a list for this segment on my blog.  It's called:  Inside Scoop Blog Series Topics.  Along with check marks to make sure I don't repeat myself.  Your goals shouldn't get any less attention.  In fact, they should get seen everyday.  

Goals are a great way to keep your self on track.  To keep you motivated to achieve something you really want.  To help you get to a bigger goal.  Make sure to make them specific and reasonable.  Sure, you can have a goal to shoot for Vogue.  But is that really attainable and reasonable?  Instead make a goal that get's you closer to that goal.  Like, take a studio lighting class.  Or take a fashion photography course by June of 2012.  Those are specific, reasonable, and attainable.  And maybe, they'll lead you to your goal of shooting for Vogue :).


4.  Value yourself (and your work)

When I started out, it was really hard for me to accept the notion of valuing my work.  I just wanted to shoot and someday be able to be a good photographer.  However, if you do not value yourself, your skills, what you've learned and ultimately your work, people will take advantage of you.  They will set the limits for you and will box you where they see fit.  

Break the box and set value for yourself.  This goes hand in hand with confidence.  The more you shoot the more confidence you'll have and in turn the more value you'll give yourself.  But don't think you have to be the best to be valued.  Don't allow for other's to limit your value, even if right now you shoot flowers and your dog.  You just might be the best floral and pet photographer ever.  Only you can limit value.  


5.  Criticism.  Learn to take it.

I remember I got an email about a year ago from an anonymous person telling me that I needed to go back to school and learn photography because everything on my website looked like it was a snapshot. I read the email and sat there with my mouth wide open in shock.  The first thing I did was go over to my website and scrutinize my work.  I looked closely for anything resembling a snapshot.  I tried to find reason as to why they had to be so mean.  And then it hit me, this guy didn't even leave a real phone number or email.  I didn't even have a chance to ask him which photos he was talking about.

Criticism is like that.  You can either sit there and cry, overlook it, or get angry.  Or, you can take it into consideration and make sure that you do the best job you can.  Learn from it. Why did this person email this hurtful email?  He was giving me a reason to prove him wrong.  

Now, not all criticism is like this.  In college, we would submit our assignments without names and the class would critique it.  I'd cringe every time critiques came around.  Never the less, valid points were made, both positive and constructive. 

 And all have made me a better photographer.  Even the guy I aim to prove wrong every day.


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And that's all for this installment!  Hope you learn something from my personal experiences!