“Change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”- Roy T. Bennett.
Stepping out of your comfort zone as been talked about a lot lately. But what does that mean for photographers? Here is my take on it.
Do all your photographs look similar? There is a good chance as once we master a formula that works we tend to just the same everywhere. Do you face a creative block? Perhaps it is time to leave the comfort behind and start exploring new ways of working. This happens to the best of us. I remember getting so complacent in my comfort zone that at one point I decided to set up for the shot like I usually do and then scramble it all up. Having a job that offers comfort and money is everybody’s dream, but what happens when you’re in a creative field like photography that changes with each passing day? When anyone starts their photography career, they prefer to work in familiar surroundings. This not only restricts their creativity but also makes the audience lose interest in their work. Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone will help you focus on everything essential to a photographer, the subject, the lighting, the background, and the overall frame. As you grow in your career, it becomes crucial to challenge your creative limit at every point to maintain a sense of newness in your work. Most photographers confine themselves to a particular way of working when their graph hits a plateau. It is necessary to keep exploring new ways and be open to changes. But, how do you get out of your comfort zone?
Here are a few things you can try:
Awareness: It starts with knowing that you are working in your comfort zone. An artist/creator is married to his/her art and in love with each of their creation. With that in mind this could be a very daunting task. Try getting your photos critiqued and also be critical of them yourself.
Try a new location: Photographers often become comfortable shooting at a particular type of location. Try exploring new locations to shoot at to get a different outcome.
Try a different style of photography: If you are a landscape photographer, try clicking portraits. If you are a food photographer, try street photography for a change. Without essentially changing your genre this small exercise could introduce you to a different approach of tackling your own creativity.
Try working with new people: Interacting with new people for every project will help you grow your network and will also help you challenge your creative skills. Work a lot of newbies. Since they are new you would have to bring in much more to table than what a seasoned person can. This could be a good test of how you can bring out the best in someone who knows very little about themselves in terms of facing the camera
Try different equipment or lens for the shoot: If you’re a professional photographer, you might be having your set of equipment and lenses you prefer to shoot with, this time try to shoot with a different lens or equipment and explore different angles to get a fresh perspective. E.g. Try using a wider lens and going close for portraits.
Let others instruct you: Most photographers prefer to do things their way. An artist comes with his ego and rightfully so. I know a lot of people who are totally averse other people suggestions. Try following your model’s or somebody else’s perspective this one time and see what difference does that makes. Whenever I try doing this I end up with the most outstanding shots. A lot of times it is my assistants that suggest a small change which makes a big difference. It is definitely worth trying with nothing to lose.
To conclude, People who become comfortable with being uncomfortable tend to get better with each project. Most people wont try new things and in my opinion it is because every creator is scared. Scared of what is in his mind might not translate into the same on his medium and that, for a lot of people can be the moment of truth. Be open to take this risk.