In photography there are certain defined rules (more on this another time). You may be thinking that rules are for suckers and to a point I agree. I mean we should do what we want, rules be damned! Eff the rules!
However, how will we know what rules to break if we don’t know what the rules are?
Also, isn’t it rather limiting to not allow ourselves access to ALL the tools available so we may add them to our creativity kit?
Whatever it is that you are photographing, you can markedly improve upon the resulting image by consciously engaging in making a better picture.
By consciously engaging I mean paying attention to certain things whether they fall tightly within or well outside the standard rules of photography.
BUT we, as humans, don’t like change so we tend to stay well within our comfort zone. This is because it’s, well, comfortable.
If it ain’t broke, right?
It doesn’t take any more time to shift out of our comfort zone when it comes to photography. It’s a mental awareness to what we are doing in the moment. It is a conscious decision to be thoughtful about our viewpoint in creating images. This can feel uncomfortable, which we hate.
The thing about moving outside that which is comfortable, in any part of our lives, is there is a tendency for this mindset to leak into many other areas of our lives.
Even small shifts can nudge the bigger stuff in the direction of stepping outside that comfort zone.
Did you know one of the keys to happiness is doing something new every day?
“Happiness is the consequence of what we do and how we behave. So when a person who is unhappy shifts their focus and does something different they help themselves to become happier. Trying to think yourself happier is difficult, happiness comes when you change what you do.” – Ben C. Fletcher D. Phil., Oxon for Psychology Today
It may seem ridiculous to think that changing how we approach our smart phone photography and social media posting as something that can have an effect on the rest of our lives but if practiced, it can.
Social media and the sharing of our lives in this capacity has made it so we become motivated by “likes” and validated through what we post. It establishes us as an individual who is “doing cool stuff.”
So the question is, are we doing something BECAUSE we plan to post about it later on social media?
If we look deeply most of us can probably answer “sometimes, yea.”
Is this a bad thing?
If posting a photo of your hike motivates you to get out and DO the hike then that can be a good thing.
Things do get into sticky territory though when we aren’t living in the experience because we are too concerned with documenting it. Getting out there is one thing; being in the moment is another.
I don’t fall into this trap too much anymore not because I am some Zen-like person but because practicing photography for all these years has made it so I am very aware of the difference between a camera being in front of my face vs. not.
However, it can be really difficult for me to NOT take a photo especially with the handiness of my cell phone.
The documenting of a moment vs. being present in the moment alters our life experience and if it becomes a series of only documenting then this can be damaging to our self-esteem. It can also dampen our creativity which affects the images we produce.
This is because validation is also another human need. When we rely on others to let us know how great we are, our confidence becomes dependent on outsiders. This is living in a prison of self-doubt because it is not possible for us to have 100% positive opinions from everybody all the time.
Maybe this seems a little over the top.
However, if you think about every day and what we are posting on social media, day after day, checking for “likes” and comments it’s easy to see how we can get wrapped up in achieving validation from others.
If we are frantically taking photos for the sole purpose of documenting to post on our social media we are closing off our creative mindset. We are not allowing ourselves to slow down and really think about what the images we are creating.
When we begin to photograph with a specific mindset then we begin to notice the difference in the images that we produce. Meaning, if we step outside of the concept of photographing for sharing purposes, our photographic voice can begin to reach multi dimensions.
A great way to expand our creative photo voice is take note of the images that we are drawn to and think about why we connect with them. Having awareness in this helps us to approach our images in a more thoughtful manner.
There is nothing inherently wrong with photographing something for the pure sake of social media posting. This is fun!
There is also nothing wrong with photographing from a purely creative standpoint and not worrying about if it will be shared.
Acknowledging there is a difference between the two will certainly bring more intention to the images we create which puts us on the fast track to opening up our creativity.