I have written about cultivating the creative and overcoming the fear factor. Let’s consider ideas to help you recognize your talents!
Many photographers find that there are periods when they are unsure of their abilities. Discovering that you have a photographic ‘eye’ is an exciting moment. Then the frustration of learning the mechanics comes in to play. Those images that looked so good on an automatic camera setting are much harder to recreate once you start exploring the camera. Further discouragement can come from a critical photographer who starts to tear apart your technique. The secret is not to let those moments of frustration inhibit your learning curve. Open the floodgates and keep experimenting! The good news is that I believe the teaching community is more responsive to positive feedback, and there is a culture of acceptance and encouragement when it comes to helping photographers develop their craft. This is further supported by the plethora of online learning possibilities such as Lynda.com and KelbyOne.
Once you have started to develop your technical skills, find out where the camera leads you. After many years as a photographer, it is only recently that I have started loving my work because I am finally focused on creating images for my clients and making pictures that please me! Many of the points I have already written about in previous blogs would apply to this blog also, overcoming fear and encouraging your creative side both help you to recognize your talents. What do you really enjoy about photography? And what inhibits you from growth? I have mentioned the importance of exploration; encouraging yourself to capture images that don’t necessarily come easily to you. The mistakes you make will also bring new insight to your photographic body of work, or simply help you to understand the mechanics of your camera better.
I recently watched a fascinating documentary about Vivian Maier. Vivian became famous posthumously when John Maloof discovered her work in a thrift auction house in Chicago. She worked as a nanny, but constantly experimented with her camera. Her passion led her to create a vast collection of candid street photographs. She most certainly discovered her talent, but one wonders if she actually recognized it. Her touring exhibitions can be seen around the world, and attract huge crowds. What we do not know is why she did not share her work. If you take a moment to peruse her online galleries you will marvel at her extraordinary photographic skill.
Unlike Ms. Maier and those wonderful street photographers of her ilk, I have never been adept at catching people as they go about their lives. I find myself concerned about invading privacy and once I become self conscious my work falters. I learned early on that street photography was not one of my innate talents! On my recent search for new photographic pastures, I find that I very much enjoy seeking out resilience and vulnerability. This can be found repeatedly in nature, and I am drawn to exploring something beyond the obvious. I enjoy playing with available light to expose, scrutinize and find the beauty from a unique perspective. This is a simple technique which involves considering more than just the angle that comes immediately to mind.
The translucent, delicate nature of flowers can really be examined when using available light to emphasize the shadows and accentuate their fleeting beauty.
It is always fun to explore all sorts of available light. Try taking your camera and a willing subject out a dusk when the street lights are turned on. If your long suffering accomplice is happy to work with you to find the best angle, the effects can be quite dramatic!
For extremely personal reasons, I am drawn to the Golden Gate bridge. My latest infrared images using a converted Canon 1D, captured the late afternoon mist, and I was able to reflect just the right mood for the particular project I had in mind.
I am also enjoying creating a body of work from a different perspective. Looking down on the world from above, using a small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), involves a distinct skill set which is constantly evolving as the tools become more advanced with each new iteration. Shooting with the camera pointed directly downward, and a bit of advanced planning, can make for some fun and different shots.
It is amazing how our work grows as we recognize our talents, and find we no longer need to emulate the talents of others. Our work may end up looking like another photographer’s work, but this should not be because we are forcing a style, more because that is how the process evolved naturally. Whether professional or amateur, make sure and take time to evolve, and to enjoy your moments behind the camera.
Steve Peterson says
I also watched the documentary about Vivian Maier, a fascinating woman. Enjoyed your article Abbe.
Abbe Lyle says
Thank you so much, Steve! I apologize for not responding sooner 🙂