You do not take a photograph, you make it
It is a daunting process to start practising photography on a conscious level. The extent of the process, and the deep self-reflection upon your own creative ability that comes with it, can easily become overwhelming. Many leave their aspiration to slowly submerge, and their journey towards creative freedom starts to fade like a Polaroid picture in the sun. As the aspiration slowly submerge there is a stagnation, and many get stuck in the loop of taking mediocre snapshots of their lives when they are able to learn how to capture and create those special moments in time.
What is it in the process that aspiring photographers find so daunting? As somebody who has practised photography for over ten years, I am aware of what the hurdles are, and I am aware of how frightening it can be to practice photography on a conscious level. Some of the hurdles and obstacles I have had to overcome, and some of them I still have to work on. It is a process you bring with you for life. However, it is a process that takes you on a journey towards exploring your creative potential as a photographer, and since I am someone who is in the middle of it I can confirm that the rewards outshine the doubts. Once you dare take the leap you have overcome the biggest hurdle of them all.
Practising Photography On A Conscious Level
Practising photography on a conscious level means that you are fully aware of your creative ability as a photographer, and how to use it. You actively take charge of the production process of your photographs, from initial idea to final outcome. This could include directing a model on set, find the perfect angle to capture a beautiful sunset, or how you want to edit your photographs. It comes down to being aware of what you want to capture, accomplish with your photographs, and how the process will look like to achieve your goals. You start practising photography on a conscious level as soon as you start reflecting on how you want your picture to look like. Focus, frame, shoot. With cameras being available to the masses, and almost everybody having one on their phone, millions of pictures are being taken every day. Most people use their phone to snap a picture of something interesting they see, but it is when you start wanting to find the perfect angle, good lighting and the best way to frame your picture that you have started to consciously and actively capture moments around you.
Wishful thinking is a dead-end
Many aspiring photographers struggle to get creative by continuously wishing that the right opportunity will present itself. They get stuck in the dangerous thoughts of “when the moment is right everything will fall into place”. That moment, however, will never present itself unless you create it. The key to success is to start before you are ready. Do not wait until you can afford a professional camera or you have the courage to ask somebody to model for you. Take action.
“The key to success is to start before you are ready.”
– Marie Forleo
Learning by Doing (second topic)
With the internet presenting itself to us as an oyster of endless opportunities it can be easy, yet difficult to source inspiration. Hours and hours can be spent researching sources, some sources better than others. Do not get stuck in a loop of finding the right inspiration or information before you start practising photography on a conscious level. Just as any other art form photography is learning by doing.
“Your first 10.000 photographs are your worst.”
– Henri Cartier Bresson
Hard work beats talent. Therefore make sure that you continuously take action and add to those ten thousand pictures you have to produce to be able to evolve, you need to work hard to be able to move forward on your journey on exploring your creative potential as a photographer. Rome was not built in a day, let consistency and persistence be your guiding words on your journey forward.
A Beginner That Has Not Yet Begun
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome as an aspiring photographer is the fear of judgment. A lot of time and effort is being put into our craft when we practice photography on a more conscious level, and it is easy to feel exposed by this. Our photographs show our actual level of creativity and talent. We put ourselves out there to be judge, and that can be daunting. Even after ten years I sometimes struggle with the fear of people judging my work, my work is very personal to me. Just as at the beginning of my photography journey I have to continuously remind myself that my work does not have to be liked by everybody. If I had got stuck in thinking that everything I produce has to be liked by everybody I would still be where I was ten years ago, a beginner that has not yet begun.
“If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.”
– Margret Thatcher
I have realized that a big part of being creative is comparing your work to others. Comparisons can be healthy if it is seen as a way of how to improve your own work, but never let yourself start thinking that you are not capable and let that hinder you in your working process. Social media trends come and go, do not depend on them, find your own photography language.
Were your confidence lies
Your confidence as a photographer should not lay in the cost of your equipment, or in how long you have been practising photography. It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that you are not capable, that you do not have what it takes professionally or in terms of equipment. If you believe that you need an expensive camera to be able to succeed you could not be more wrong. It is possible to own the world´s most expensive camera and still take pictures that gladly will be forgotten. When I started practising photography I bought the smallest most inexpensive digital camera I could find. A pink Olympus Pen, and still to this day I treasure that camera. I could not afford one of the bigger more expensive cameras, and I was ashamed as the time. I had to lay that shame aside and I started working hard with the equipment I had and I saw progress in my photos. With the hard work came confidence. Your confidence should lie in the knowledge that your hard work will always pay off.
Failure, a Photographer´s Best Friend
I can not count on one hand the amount of the times I have made a fool out of myself on a set of important photoshoots. There are many things that can go wrong and we can not prepare ourselves for them all. Let the mistakes be an indication that you tried something you have never tried before, and learn from them.
Allow yourself to fail. However, do not fail yourself by not taking action, hoping and wishing for the right moment to appear. Wishful thinking is a dead-end, you are the one who determines when to start practising photography on a conscious level. Do not become a beginner that has not yet begun.
Fail, fail again, fail better. Once you have failed enough you will have become a professional photographer. But more about that later on.