A Photographer's Process
from top to bottom: Paris 2008, 2010, documentary 2011, New Zealand 2011, documentary 2012, uni project 2013
The other day I found some notes which I must have put down ages ago.
It was mainly about my thoughts on photography and how they’ve changed over the years. I thought I’d share that with you, hoping it might help you develop in your photographic process.
1. When I first got my camera I was mostly concerned about technical issues, like shutter speed, ISO, focus, and all the other things on my camera that I didn’t know much about.
Now I’d say, don’t worry too much about technical stuff. Of course you need to have a basic knowledge and understanding of your camera’s settings, but if you mainly focus on visual effects then the technical skills will automatically follow.
2. Which is what I did next: I focused on the visual side (e.g. perspective, light, composition, etc.).
3. I learnt from others. I did an internship at a photography studio, which taught me heaps of stuff (very valuable experience!). Learning from others also means a lot of different influences, which gives you a good insight into what is out there, and it helps you to find out where you want to go yourself.
4. I read a lot, looked at magazines, websites, anything visual that you can think of. Again it helped me to figure out where I wanted to go, what area of photography I was interested in.
5. After a while my mind was filled with different thoughts on my desired topic/area of photography. I felt like photojournalism/documentary photography was exactly the right thing for me to do, it felt right inside.
Think about what it is that you want to do, and when you start feeling motivated and encouraged to work on it and challenge yourself, it might be the right thing.
(Although I’m not saying that can never change again!)
6. Because a little while later I started to feel insecure about what I really wanted to do, whether photojournalism really was the right thing for me, and all my different interests (not only within photography) started nagging me from the inside. (All that is still the case!)
What you can learn from it: Insecurity is a good challenge. It keeps you moving forward, it makes you think about where you are and where you really want to go in life, and why.
7. Then there was (still is) a point where I was mainly concerned with finding my own style.
It’s a time of exploration, constantly changing moods and feelings.
I can only tell you what I’ve learnt from it so far: don’t spend too much time working on a certain look of your photos - don’t spend too much time editing them in a certain style, or designing stuff to suit your ‘new style’. Because it will only change again, very soon, and you’ll be frustrated that you spent so much time working on something that you don’t care about anymore.
8. Then, there comes a point where you will seriously start to think about making money.
The business side of things. Freelancer or employee? I started reading business blogs, learnt about promoting myself, marketing, design, etc. etc.
What I’ve learnt so far is that you have to think of yourself as a business, no matter where you actually are moneywise. Read a lot and learn from people who have lots of experience in the business world.
Also, I’d suggest entering competitions (putting your work out there), going to meetings and events, socialising, applying for jobs, trying to get your foot in the door...
Keep going, be persistent, and patient.
So, that’s where I am now.
Still figuring it all out - which is why I do believe that patience is key!
What is your experience with ‘progressing’ as a photographer?