Reflection is an important process in order to grow and improve. In the past 6 months I’ve been really looking at what motivates me in photography and what I want to achieve from it.
I thought I’d share what my thought process has been and I hope someone will find this beneficial.
What is Your Focus in Photography?
When I ask what you focus is, I mean what you aim to be. Do you want to be a professional photographer, or you just love taking photos without worrying about the technical side of things?
For me, I only want to be a hobbyist. I’ve dabbled with the idea of doing paid work and even been a second shooter at a wedding before. I always come to the same conclusion that for me, photography is most enjoyable as a hobby. Photography is what I do when I’ve had a bad week or want to relax. I personally believe that once you do a job for long enough, it becomes boring and the fun tends to disappear. If photography becomes my day job, I wont have that outlet for releasing my stress.
As a hobbyist, I wish to improve in both a technical and creative aspect. I feel I’ve come quite a long way in terms of the technical aspect, but my creativity is lacking. One hobby outside photography that I love but lack any skills in is paper craft.
Above you’ll see one of the few photos I’ve taken of origami that I made. I have plenty of ideas for images, I just suck at making the paper objects. You also see so many amazing photos of paper craft everywhere online which means you need to be extra creative to come up with something unique.
We are forever learning new things so hopefully one day soon I can learn to be better at origami and then I will always have subjects for still life photos.
Has Your Photography Style Changed and Improved?
This is a really great opportunity to reflect on where your photography started compared to where it is now. Can you see growth and improvement in your images?
I would say I can definitely see the difference in my work from back in 2011 compared to the present day. I’ve put a large focus on the tones in my images compared to when it was just an afterthought. The technical and creative aspect of my photos have both improved, but I still have a lot to learn.
Now we’ll look at some of my images as a comparison of how my technique and style has changed over the years.
Below is an example of a self portrait I took of my girlfriend and I in 2012. It was with my Canon 550D and Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II. I remember at the time, I was very proud of this image and felt it was one of my best.
Fast forward to 2019 and here is a photo of us again, but with my full frame Sony A7III and FE 85mm f/1.8 lens.
If you compare both images, the technical improvements of the second image is obvious. One could simply chalk it up to gear but it’s more than that. Gear does somewhat play a factor, but skill also comes into it. Here is a photo taken in the exact same spot two years after the first one. I did have a new body and tripod for that second image, but the color was much better as well as the tighter composition. This shows that my skill also changed in terms of creativity and my processing skills.
In terms of product/still life photography, I have another example for everyone. Below are some product shots I took from 2014 of my Canon 6D and EF 35mm f/2 IS lens.
As you can see, they certainly aren’t great. When looking at these images, I think some of the technical aspects are good. My lighting and exposure are good and editing was fairly decent too, just not great. The main issue I see is my creativity in terms of composition.
Next we have some product shots I done in late 2017 and early 2018.
As you can probably see in the images above, there’s quite a difference. I have composed them much better with more negative space. I also used flash for both of these and focused more on the color work. Even though it’s been a few years, I’m still quite happy with these images but I can already see some things I would change.
The Final Stage
The last question to ask yourself is, are you happy with where you’re at?
This is probably the most important stage as everyone learns and grows at their own pace. A lot of people compare their progress and achievements to others which is natural, but not the best way to move forward. You need to find your own pace and direction with photography. Even if you find you haven’t changed or improved much, as long as you’re happy with where you’re at then that’s all that matters.
People often forget that photography is an art. The reason this is so important is that art is subjective. What one person likes, another won’t. If everyone had the same style and shot the exact same subject, things would get boring quick. Take time to learn and find your style. Once you do, embrace and evolve until you’re happy with where you’re at. Most importantly of all, don’t let anyone discourage you either.
Do you reflect on how your style and images have changed over the years? Is there something you want to try and do differently? If you have any questions leave a comment below and you can also subscribe to my posts by using the form below.