I recently used one of my quarantine nights to create an art project for myself. A few weeks ago the rules were stricter about staying home and I used it as an opportunity to expand my own skills and vision. I encourage photographers who are stuck at home either because of the quarantine or protest curfews to push their limits and try new things.
For me it was about breaking past my own harsh opinions of roses. It's a flower I always thought was unattractive and the challenge was to capture something that I found beautiful with the rose. The other challenge was to find the most tattered and aged rose, and give that little superstar the deserved makeover. I opted for the broken roses because broken things are beautiful also, including broken people and then the aged part just has me challenging ageism.
Photography is more than just an attractive photograph and I urge all photographers to put the "why" into their photographs, as it makes us better artists and creators. Why are you taking that photograph and what does it mean to you? Tell me about that, because that's what I am deeply interested in. This is how your work stands out.
In the process of this of my quarantine photo shoot project, I learned a few lessons. Here are a few of them now:
- The foam-core board is your best friend and the best place to purchase it is your neighborhood dollar store. Every photographer should have a few black and white sided boards to use as a flag, background, bounce or a fan.
- Your "weakness" is your strength and that goes across many platforms of life. In the video, I mention how I looked for the most broken and aged roses. We value the youth in our society and I wanted to show that age adds to the interest level of anything. with that, I took time to see what I most disliked about each rose. Then I made that the entire focus of each rose. If they had torn petals, I focused on the beauty of that area. If they were changing colors with age spots, I showed how beautiful those color changes were. The same can be said about your skills as a photographer. Are you ultra-selective or have a dark view of things? Instead of changing who you are, run with what you have and be the stand out star in that lane.
- You don't need a lot of gear, and a single light is more than enough if you understand bracketing in photography. In fact, I insist that photographers start with the least amount of photography equipment. Learn to master one bit of gear and do the most with it. You'll surpass the ones who have a tool for each job in no time.
- In the process of photographing the broken roses, I realized that photographing something with an iPhone is more than enough. To prove that, I even put some of the art prints for sale. If you understand lighting, any camera is a great camera. If I'm going to challenge myself by photographing something I never found that beautiful, then let's make it extra challenging and use my iPhone instead of my professional camera and lenses.
Fellow photographers, challenge yourself by trying new things. In an ideal world you'll have a commercial clients and passion project happening at the same time. Your passion projects can remain simple with the unlimited things in our day-to-day life. It could be flowers, bugs, clouds, or even glass reflections. It can be anything but ideally it should be different than what you're normally used to photographing.