Lately, I’ve been thinking that I am not happy about my shots. You know that feeling, right? I saw too many great photos from all around the world and it got me thinking – man, there must be something else in it. Yes – urban shots with silhouettes or people caught in the melancholy of today’s world – it still attracts me. I felt a need to develop, to learn, to workout, to do photographic push-ups. I wanted to get a little closer with people and since it was a problem for me as I am not people person. What did I have to loose?
You can only benefit from challenges like this. I named it ‘challenge’ as it is something I am not used to. If I was to solve a geometry task on secondary school level – it would be a challenge as well, a hell of challenge. This one however is something different because photography is my passion, it’s something that I love and maths was something I hated from the deepest corner of my heart. I had to forget about irrational fear of getting closer with my camera and just go with the flow. As I am writing this – the process is still ongoing. I try to take my camera everywhere I go and get closer and I have to say that I’ve been enjoying it so far.
I believe that leaving your comfort zone is something we need to do to feel alive. Only then we are able to get better, to develop. It gives you a great load of photographic confidence, there aren’t any downsides of changing your point of view or even changing your style and your photography routine. It doesn’t mean that from now on I will only be taking photos of people who are an arm’s length from me. Some might say – ‘you’ve just copied Leuthard shots or someone else’s, so what are you so happy about?’. That’s not the point. Don’t treat photography so serious. Try to get off your beaten track once for a while. For some it may be shooting landscapes, for others taking photos of your beloved ones and for some hitting the street and trying to come a little closer.
The internet is full of people who are so damn serious about their equipment, technique, vision etc. These are only words, photographic white noise that you need to ignore completely. It’s not going to do you any good, just the opposite – you will loose your time and energy on reading something that doesn’t really matter that much. Categories, lables, names… forget about it. Do what you feel is best for you and when you feel like doing something else – just do it and very often it means that you will have to leave your comfort zone behind. Stop thinking and start doing. Yeah, I know it may sound trivial but it’s true.
To my own surprise getting closer to people did not bring me any special difficulty. Of course it is something that I am not used to but so far I am happy with the results. I don’t want to be harsh on myself with this and I am not putting any pressure. I found that when I am relaxed I am able to get better shots. It was the same story with my 365 Days Project – towards the end of it taking photos was a real pain in the a$$ ( look here : How to Fail at Your One Photo a Day Project ). I had a really bad time back then, both mentally and physically. Now, when I don’t feel like taking pictures, I just don’t do it.
I always was a huge fan of non-flash shooting. I believed that artificial light generated from your camera does not make photo any better. I always thought that it made photo look cheesy. Lately, I’ve changed my mind. I guess it happened over the night. One day I woke up and browse through Bruce Gilden shots and said to myself : “man, this is crazy good”. I took my X100T on a sunny day and changed flash to always ON. I also have an external flash Fujifilm E-42, however I did not figure out how to set it precisely for that kind of shooting. Also this external flash is quite huge and bulky when compared with camera itself. For now I will try to use built-in flash and see where it’s going to take me. X100T is a perfect little beast for street photography and I love it. I know I repeat it as a maniac, but it’s true, this camera has it all.
I must say that I love to come back to these shots. There is a lot more going on in them. I believe that this is a step forward for me in terms of my photography. This what was a challenge in the first place maybe will develop into a habit. I would like to explore emotions, connections and people more. I am not going to limit myself in any way.
So, what challenges have you taken up lately ?