At the end of 2017 I felt like I had boxed myself into a corner with my own mindset about what I “should” be taking photos of and how I edited them. I felt suffocated and overwhelmed trying to find my “voice” and “style”, two elements of the creative life that, as the time, I didn’t really understand but was so desperate to define. More than anything I wanted to be seen as a “proper” photographer, and not the amateur I felt like. I had lost a lot of the initial joy I had felt in 2016 when I first started photographing my family. The naivety of being a beginner and not knowing the rules was blissful. I wanted to get back to that place and just PLAY.
What did I do?
I decided to make conscious effort to be open to trying different things and to not worry about my style/voice or consistency. I joined a whole heap of Facebook groups from self portraits to storytelling to expose myself to inspiration and be part of different communities. I wanted to be more mindful of the money I spent on classes, and really consider what I wanted to learn about. I bought different presets to experiment with my editing. I experimented with light both in my house and outdoors, I experimented with locations (playgrounds/supermarket/forest etc) I took ALOT of photos, although I didn’t do a 365 project ( a photo a day for a year) I was pretty much shooting everyday. I tried not to overthink things (something I am prone to doing) and to not worry about if an image was Instagram worthy. I read a few books, discovered some photography blogs and sought out a diverse range of Instagram accounts to inspire me.
What did I learn?
Opening myself up to experimenting with my photography was to accept the flaws, the imperfect, and the mistakes. Many times I struggled with bringing my vision to life and I took countless crappy photos. As I settled into the year and created space mentally to experiment, I realised how important it was to let go of the idea of “perfect”. Giving myself the freedom to try things and having a specific statement on my Instagram page that I was EXPERIMENTING was hugely liberating and helped keep the word at the forefront of my mind. I also shared opening and honestly about my experimentation with people on Instagram which also helped me feel more at ease with the whole process. I actively stepped out of my comfort zone and photographed things that I wouldn’t normally, like a trip to the supermarket which helped me to think about what I was drawn to photographing and why. In the latter part of the year I became much more comfortable with trying things out and not having high expectations on myself. I also learnt the importance of saving my “experiments” and that I often I need time to marinate on images to shift my mindset and to see the diamond in the rough.
My joy and delight in taking photos is celebrating us as we really are. I hope my work reflects who we are right now and will continue to evolve as we evolve.