I know it’s been a bit since I’ve updated on my self assigned projects – I sort of gained a bit of momentum with several of the previous posts… I had a gallery opening (WOOHOO!) and I’ve been setting my contact management software up. And I’ve been busy booking clients and keeping out of trouble. Mostly!
Which means that I haven’t been exploring my creativity (except when I’ve been doing photo shoots for others). Which is actually fine – taking a breather, finding some space and being able to look at the photos I currently have while finding new things to do with them has been a bit of a refreshing change for me. My way has been to take a photo, edit it and forget about it in the past. And that’s not really what I want for the future. Definitely see changes down the road….
As I get back to editing my client’s work, I’ll leave you with the photos that were part of my show! I hope you enjoy…. (And you can see the work displayed on Mt Crested Butte at the Alpenglow Gallery in The Lodge at Mountaineer Square through December.)
One last note to add… I feel like just keeping myself moving forward – even when it feels awkward, amateurish and fake – has been incredibly helpful! It’s forcing me to not only make the time for photography, but keeping a space in my head open just a little bit more. I’m finding inspiration in the oddest places – a show about chefs, the gorgeous, cutting, almost blinding colors of our beautiful valley, the chance thought someone has shard. And I really love that I can apply it to my photography in a brand new way – even if it’s only in my head right now!
Small steps have really helped keep me moving – something I’ve struggled with in the past. It’s pretty exciting to figure this out about myself!
Have you learned anything new about yourself lately? Are you finding new ways to look at things? Gained any momentum?
After poking around a little more, I still haven’t been able to find other photographers who talk much about the process of “rediscovering” themselves or looking at their art in a new way…
Is this because it’s so personal? Because people aren’t willing to put themselves out there as someone who doesn’t have it all perfect? That they aren’t interested in failing in the public eye?
I’m not sure.
For me, this process is new. When you’re doing portraits, you’re trying to do it for others, for your client. This is exactly what portrait photography requires.
But sometimes it’s hard to include yourself once your style is “set”. For me, while I feel there is always room to do new things even with portrait photography. But the idea of trying new things while still trying to include and please my clients feels daunting.
Experimenting on my own while continuing my portraits feels more freeing for me.
Let go of something old to allow something new to take its place.
After looking at barriers, I realized all this – that “I’m a portrait photographer with a certain style and experimenting shouldn’t be done”. That was my thought!
I had also been holding on to a LOT of old (3-8 years old) fine art work that no longer suited me for a variety of reasons. So I let it go. I gave it away.
Not because I didn’t like it, but rather so I could make room for something new. I wasn’t sure what would happen. I was just trusting that wherever that voice was coming from, it was correct….
And I did bring in new ideas and new inspiration within days of this happening! It felt SO freeing.
Suddenly, my resistance to putting my work in a gallery fell away. I felt I needed to be “somewhere” with my work and that it had to be completely cohesive into order for that to happen. But you know what? That’s just silly!
And after talking to a few other artist friends, I realized that it was just my brain trying to mess with me.
So far, I’ve contacted 3 galleries and plan to chat with a few more early next week (another barrier coming down!). We will see what happens after that!
In the meantime, here are some of my experiments with a few thoughts below each.
With all of these images, I sat and thought about what it was that I liked about each. What could I pare down and convey better to someone looking at them. Much of what I shoot is about color, shape, lines….
These photos happen to be color photos, but often, I choose black and white because of these things. So trying to keep the color and still create the feel I was wanting was a really fun experiment – one that I want to work with more!
And as I played around with the Green Door, I had to think about what it was that was important to me with the image. When I finished and feel in love with my first image, I found that one of the details I loved – the chicken wire around the outside of the door – was very visible, but the image looked too close to a photograph. More factual, less representational.
And then I stumbled across another image I almost got rid of and tinkered with that one. And I found that the things that were important – the detail around the door, the color of the roof, the snow in front – disappeared and created a much more interesting image for me.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Finally, with this photo, I was trying to get rid of some of the detail while still retaining the optical illusion of an eye. It’s hard to see this small (the editing I did, that is), but if you click on it, you can see that I’ve tried to keep you from seeing all the small detail, to bring you back to looking at the overall image and the shapes created by the dead and beautifully alive trees.
Do you experiment with your photography? How?
I have in the past, but it’s been from a far more technical perspective. I am pretty surprised at how much I’m enjoying this process. I wasn’t really expecting that!
It’s funny, the barriers I have had in the last week for completing this post…. Various illnesses, random health stuff (nothing serious), lack of sleep – and how those really affect my ability to tap into my creativity. And then I question myself again – are these really barriers or is it all in my mind? Hmm…..
Anyway, I’m back! And as you can probably tell, a regularly scheduled blog posting timeline doesn’t really seem to be happening for me right now. So rather than stressing, you’ll just see me when you see me!
My original intention was to examine one barrier and try to break past it. And I definitely did that. I have found myself bringing my camera around, considering how to do an HDR or a Pano shot and wondering where I could take them…. Either from a shooting or an editing perspective.
But then on a rainy, dreary, overcast day here in Crested Butte (rare – and we have had a LOT lately!), I brought my camera with me – I just love the low clouds, the muted colors. And found a few photo ops that really drew me in.
With one in particular, this bird right below, I realized I could play around in Photoshop and try a few things.
For me, this was about the process, not the end result. I like the end result, I don’t really love it. It doesn’t have a ton of meaning to me.
But I REALLY enjoyed the process if finding photos to layer, deciding on the overall feel of the image, looking at how it all came together.
And it’s funny! As I look at it more, I am seeing what I would do to change it up. It feels like a far longer process, this tweaking and changing, than I’ve done in the past.
And I really like that process! Don’t be surprised if you find more of that from me in the future….
On another note, I ran across some more photos I took last year that I had wanted to merge. I was particularly happy with this one.
So where to from here? I’m not sure. There may be a Barriers IV post or maybe I’ll be on to something new…. Only next week (or the week after!) will tell!
Did you try anything new? What are your thoughts on the photos I’ve done? Are you breaking down any barriers?
I think “struggle” will have to be a topic one day… it’s something I definitely did a lot of that in the last few days!
With that said, though, I got some interesting results from my first self-assignment – play, ones that made me happy for various reasons. I’m just going to share my thoughts on each photo….
If you change your aperture to a large number, (close down your aperture – I can chat about that in more depth another time, if anyone is interested), you can partially hide the sun or another bright light and create a little star. With my creativity at a low, I decided to try this – and was shocked to download the photo and find a beautiful rainbow in the shot!
I am finding that just by trying one thing, you find something completely unexpected. And often, it’s quite thrilling that way!
In Crested Butte, spring is slow and summer feels very far away at this time of year. Our friends and family far away speak of green grass, warmer weather and getting outside while we receive snow just as we’re ready to melt out.
But it’s these signs that appear out of nowhere that I find exciting. Green sprouts, little droplets of “dew” (read: melting snow) and warmer breezes combined with a slow, lazy off season town. This is one of my favorite times of year…
Hills and Valleys
I’ve always been intrigued by shapes and shadows. It hasn’t been until more recently that I started to enjoy taking photos in color. Traditionally, I’ve loved black and white far more. And when I want to get back to my roots, while “playful” isn’t the word the pops to mind, “fun” definitely does.
I have fun turning an otherwise mundane object into a thoughtful, unexpected photo. (Can anyone guess what this is?)
In this photo, I enjoyed playing with color. It’s more vibrant here than it is in real life and the shapes are so interesting to me. Why would you put a hook on the side of your garage?
How did I feel about this project?
Honestly, I feel like I could have embraced it more. I could give you the litany of why it ended up falling a little flat for me right now, but basically it boils down to being distracted by life.
What it did bring to light is how I felt about taking photos right now – like I “needed” to because I’d committed to a blog post. It became a job instead of a joy before the fact
But I did find out was that the “getting out” was the hard part, once I was out taking photos, I did enjoy it! I didn’t do the things I wanted to do so that I could get out of my head (jumping on the trampoline, finding something funny to contemplate, dancing wildly for no reason), but I moved myself forward to do this and, frankly, that felt really good. I did get to the “enjoying taking photos” part and that was important for me – even if it still didn’t feel like I was sparking creativity.
Maybe it’s a matter of “faking it ’til you feel it” sort of thing? Maybe, just maybe… if I do this again, I just might be able to incorporate all the aspects I’d like to?
Time will only tell…
What were your experiences?
What did you find helpful in this project? Were there any take away thoughts you had?
Or maybe the word needs to be “joy” or possibly “fun”… No! Playful! That’s it!
Interacting with others during a photoshoot, I can often find that sense of “fun” and “play”. But taking my own photos lately has really been summed up as “chore”.
Not a very inspiring word, right? (But then again, maybe chores are a joyful thing for you! If so, let me know… I’m happy to allow you find some joyful chores at my place.)
Getting out of a rut
I recently went to a conference (non-photography related) that suggested that when we get into a rut doing something the same way over and over, we can lose the joy we may have found in the past. But when we find ways to inject a sense of play into whatever it is, we can find our excitement, our inspiration again.
This thought really struck me. Sure, I take photos of my girls. I do the things I suggest to others – I move around, stand on top of something or way down low or left or right to change my perspective. But I’m not doing it with a sense of fun and excitement – I’m doing it because I just want to make sure I capture that moment and look like a professional.
Often, I’m removing myself from whatever I’m photographing and just taking snapshots (often with my phone) in an attempt to capture what? The “moment” I’m not really involved in? How uninspiring is that?!? (Don’t get me wrong, snapshots are definitely worthwhile, but when you’re using them as an excuse to pull back, it needs some closer examination.)
So I’ve been considering what this means: to play with my photography. I have some thoughts, but I almost don’t want to share. Not so much because I don’t want you to know, but rather because I don’t want to point you in a particular way or skew your idea of what “play” means in this context.
Instead, though, I’m going to give you some of the things I’ll consider as I head into this “assignment”. But before I do, why don’t you close your eyes for a moment and consider all the aspects of what finding joy or ways that you can be more playful in your photography…
Go ahead. Close your eyes! Okay…. I’m going to close mine and then share my thoughts.
And please! Feel free to share yours on Facebook or here in the comments. …… Ways I feel I may be able to inject PLAYFULNESS into my photos:
Get involved with whatever is going on – be a part of it and take a photo of the part that makes me SMILE or LAUGH! Even if the point of the photo is missed by everyone, it’s something that speaks to ME!
Jump on the trampoline before I go out and shoot. ESPECIALLY if I’m not really in the mood. Or maybe I’ll dance. Or skip. Or put on a silly hat. Something that gets me out of my head! Makes me realize that I don’t need to be taking all this so gosh darn seriously!
Find things that perplex me, crack me up, confound me, confuse me and take a photo. Play with angles, locations, see if I can capture the FEEL of what I’m shooting. And if I lose it – I lose that interest, I STOP right then.
Play with the settings on my camera and do something completely different. (Okay, admittedly, if you have a camera phone, this may be tougher, but try doing something like spinning in low light and taking a photo. Should be interesting!) Slow shutter speed, fast shutter speed, adjust the light to be bright where you wouldn’t expect, create shapes and shadows….
Edit in a new, interesting, fun way without regard to who is going to see it. Those of you on phones can really take advantage of this with all the cool apps! Maybe we can share our favorite apps sometime?
Remember, this isn’t about the PHOTO.
It’s about the PROCESS of enjoying the photo and the moment.
While the photo taken in this way may be good, it may just as likely be bad or boring. (For the record, this is just as much a reminder for me as it is for you, dear reader.)
Because I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while, I have taken a few photos with this in mind. (And I plan to do more over the weekend.) So I thought I’d share my thoughts on them.
Photo at the top of this post – Balance or Propped
We get a lot of snow here in Crested Butte and when things melt, you find the most interesting things. In this shot in my backyard (literally), my neighbor had a ladder that ended up getting hooked under the siding and propped across the top of her handlebars and is about 2′ above the ground on the other end of the ladder.
I didn’t have the right lens to capture the whole ladder, but decided to do the shot anyway – for some reason, it amused and interested me. While the image may not be “star quality”, it’s fun and illustrates some of the ideas I’m trying to incorporate into a different process….
Don’t Fence Me In
I love photos with movement. In my previous post with the photo at the bottom as well as with the image above, I just wanted to play around with movement.
I feel that this gives some great graphical interest. Plus, it’s just plain fun to twist, move and swirl around trying to capture something new and unique! It’s usually unexpected and it’s often really interesting. I love this photo! You?
What are your thoughts?
Are you going to be joining me? What are you considering trying to do to have fun with your photos? What are your thoughts on these two shots? (And no worries – you can’t hurt my feelings!! It’s okay if you don’t like them. LOL!)
See you early next week with some more photos and some more thoughts!