Finding Subjects and Pushing Boundaries
According to the following graph, I am somewhere between ‘gearfaggotry’* and ‘dammit I suck’. I don’t deny this. I accept it. It is the only way to move forward. In fact I have provided factual evidence that I entered photography in the ‘All i shoot is pretty (flowers and cats)’ phase in my previous posts. I still may be lingering in that area with occasional forays into the ‘all i shoot is bad‘ kingdom. I like to travel and keep my options open.
To see full version click here
*Just for the record I don’t condone this language or encourage the use of this term. I did not create this graph (or the word) and only merely refer to it in order to give some form of reference to my level of photography. I believe the term is simply stating the fascination, dependence, or over-use of fancy gear and has no relation whatsoever to actual homosexuality. If your still offended after this explanation. GFY.
If it weren’t for the simple fact that I don’t attempt to sell my work or my ‘skills’ I would call myself a ‘fauxtog’. A term I have proudly just learned about. Guys like me are a dime a dozen and excel at providing mediocre imagery. Let these voted images be evidence to prove this mediocrity as well. At least I know my place in the world and won’t be quitting my day job OR trying to sell this crap…ever. So, let’s move on to the topic of today. Pushing ones boundaries and exploring new subjects.
(A good example of what failure can look like when ‘exploring’ your abilities and subjects)
Now that we have taken enough shots of flowers and cats, lets move on to dogs. Kidding. In all seriousness I have started looking for things outside my comfort zone. For me that means scenes, portraits, and landscapes. For you it could mean flowers and cats lol. I have considerably far fewer images in the last few weeks due in large part because of my conscious decision to shoot new things. Having a maniacal new puppy hasn’t helped either. That said, the biggest roadblock I face is twofold: creativity and ability.
Creatively is easy enough to overcome. Eventually even a monkey has a good idea now and again. “It was best of times, it was the blurst of times” – Stupid Monkey. I have had a few decent ideas in the last few weeks but mother nature hasn’t cooperated yet. A few of my ‘less than decent’ ideas didn’t work because, well, they sucked. If you get really stuck you can always try to recreate another famous image. As long as you’re not trying to pass it off as original, your own, or otherwise. Creativity is not exactly a learned skill, although I am sure some form of it can be taught. I have some but most of it has been used on flowers and cats and creations that I conjure in the kitchen.
Ability on the other hand, is something you can’t really fake. You can either pull off the shot or you can’t. When mother nature decides to fill up our local cargo docks at the train station with creamy fog, I will find out if I can pull off the shot or not. In any case, ability is something that can be developed or learned over time if the individual so desires. I desire. Currently my abilities are limited, but that won’t stop me from pushing my boundaries, searching out new subjects, and developing new skills.
So, finding new subjects is rather easy. Look around. Go for a walk. Wait for them to come to you. The hard part, at least for me, is finding meaning or substance in those subjects, THEN executing the photo to create something you like. See thats the key, at least for those of us who don’t rely on photography for a source of income, to enjoy what you shoot. To improve, have fun, and most importantly like the result. Real photographers have to worry about what the client wants. Who really gives a shit what anyone else thinks? I use people. I use them to get feedback. I take the good feedback and try and put it into practice. I take the bullshit and leave it where it belongs, in a heap lying on the side of the internet highway. Not every pro is right and not every n00b is wrong. Thats the beauty of art.
Pushing your personal boundaries is just as easy. Especially for those relatively new to photography. Like an infant learning to crawl, there is so much more learning to do that it’s not worth thinking too far into the future. One step at a time. Baby steps. Look to the next stepping stone and start making your way there. Thats what I’m doing. At least when I’m not shitting my pants and vomiting all over my one piece cotton jumper.
One day in the future I hope to take an online program that will enhance whatever abilities I have learned by then. I have neither the time, patience, or money to take an actual program…and if I did I would have to go out and actually take pictures for a living. I am content being a mediocre smartass that takes pictures for the hell of it. Taking oneself seriously can be an unhappy adventure that ends with huddled sobbing in a cold shower whimpering about how unfair life is.
Troy Alan White
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