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Author Topic: A Brick Wall?  (Read 2240 times)
RichardGilbert
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« on: April 13, 2010, 03:37:02 PM »
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I feel like I've hit a brick wall in my photography recently. What can i do to make my mediocre photography better? Has anybody else hit brick walls in their experience?
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Sgt. Richard V. Gilbert
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k bennett
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2010, 05:32:10 PM »
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Um, buy a new camera?  (JUST KIDDING!)

What I tell my students is this: go to a big local bookstore, get a cup of coffee, and sit in the photo section and look at books. Not "how to" books -- though there is a place for those -- but the "why to" books. Collections of great photography, individual monographs, historical photos, everything from old photojournalism to current art photography and all the stuff in between. Landscapes, portraits, just devour it all and let it percolate in the back of your mind for awhile.

The end result may be that you come away inspired to try a new kind of photography, or see things in a new way. You don't want to just copy someone else's work -- though, again, there is a place for that -- but you want to learn to see the commonplace in new and fresh ways.

Then get out and start shooting. Force yourself to shoot something every day -- something new, something different, or even just the same thing. Every. Single. Day.

Finally, you might find this book provides a useful way of looking at the world, and not just for photography.

Good luck.
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Equipment: a camera and some lenses.
Joe Behar
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« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2010, 06:01:03 PM »
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Quote from: k bennett
Then get out and start shooting. Force yourself to shoot something every day -- something new, something different, or even just the same thing. Every. Single. Day.

That's the only thing I disagree with. I just replied to a similar thread a while ago and I strongly believe that forcing the issue is a bad thing. I don't believe you can force creativity. You can work on technique, exposure or some other technical stuff, but trying to force creativity, in my opinion is a recipe for potential disaster.

By all means, look through some books for inspiration, but more importantly, take some time to think and refocus, clear your mind and pick up your camera only when you have gotten rid of your old thinking, otherwise you'll just end up making the same photographs that you do now.

Just my $0.02

YMMV

Oh, by the way. "Photography And The Art Of Seeing" is still, to this day, my favorite photo book of all time. I first read it many, many years ago and I still reach for it regularly, but you still have to be in the right frame of mind to be creative.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2010, 06:14:48 PM by Joe Behar » Logged
tokengirl
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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2010, 06:52:52 PM »
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Put the camera away for a while, and don't look at your own work.  In fact, don't even look at anyone else's work.  Just forget about photography for a while and move on to other things.  When you start to miss it, I mean really miss it to the point where you don't feel the frustration of that brick wall anymore, then start looking at other people's work and be inspired by it.  Then it's time to get the camera out again.

I did this, and I feel much better about what I'm doing now.  I enjoy it, I feel rejuvenated by it, it brings peace to my soul.  When it starts to frustrate me again, and I'm sure it will at some point, I'll stop again.  Don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying one should not be challenged by things, but there is a difference between being challenged by something and feeling frustrated by it.  Life is short, it is important to recognize the difference.
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stamper
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« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2010, 03:12:38 AM »
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Quote

Then get out and start shooting. Force yourself to shoot something every day -- something new, something different, or even just the same thing. Every. Single. Day.

Unquote

I think that this will just make matters worse. If you are just - temporarily - not enjoying it then a break will be a benefit. There are only a limited amount of subjects that can be covered and nobody can do justice to all of them. Professional photographers don't take images every day so should hobbyists?
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nigelrudyard
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« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2010, 07:05:03 AM »
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I agree with tokengirl entirely. In any creative pursuit, there are lulls where one doesn't feel inspired. I play guitar and for a while stopped enjoying playing. I put it away for a few months and only when I actually missed playing did I take it out of its case again -- afterwards I started playing folk and classical more and found a new 'groove'.

I've had similar phases with photography. I put my cameras away and wait until I feel inspired again -- usually because I'm about to visit somewhere new.  This is the joy of being an "amateur" or "enthusiast" (I hate both these terms) -- because we don't do it for a job we don't have to shoot when we feel uninspired, so it should never become a chore, always a pleasure.

I'm sure your mojo will return soon!

"Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm. It moves stones, it charm brutes. Enthusiasm is the genius of sincerity, and truth accomplishes no victories without it ."

Cheers
Nigel
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nigelrudyard
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« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2010, 07:16:43 AM »
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By the way, note to kbennett, I love your quote -- "a camera and some lenses." It's such a sensible statement that puts the equipment into perspective -- I'm a refugee from dpreview where I was nearly put off photography by the pixel peepers and measurebators who endlessly picked holes in each others' work and where every debate seemed to be a joyless critique of why the next camera along would revolutionise photography.

"Hey guys, I've just come back from paradise and St. Peter let me take this picture of Heaven!"
"Oooh, you've got some purple fringing round the pearly gates, and your lenses don't capture angels' wings very well..."

I doubt Monet and Rembrandt ever argued that the quality of their brushes or canvases equated to the quality of their artworks. It's a peculiarity of our craft, and an unhealthy one.

Anyway, it's nice to be among genuine photographers, who see the camera as the tool, not the master.  

Rock on!
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"Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer - and often the supreme disappointment."
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ckimmerle
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« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2010, 08:04:28 AM »
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Duplicate post....sorry
« Last Edit: April 14, 2010, 08:13:48 AM by ckimmerle » Logged

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Chuck Kimmerle
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« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2010, 08:12:31 AM »
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Before we all start giving our sage advice, perhaps we should ask Richard WHY he feels the way he does and WHAT he would like to improve. This is not a one-size-fits-all issue, especially as we don't know what the issue is (technical, aesthetic, artistic), his experience level, or even the type of photos he likes to shoot.

The advice so far:

1. Just go out a shoot, shoot, shoot - great advice for young or inexperienced photographers as they need to explore their creative limits, but not really helpful to someone who has been shooting for a long time.

2. Put the camera away - good advice for experienced shooters who may feel burned out or lacking inspiration, but bad advice for someone just starting out or perhaps having technical issues (which are often mistaken for artistic ability)

Let's ask Richard what the deal is?

Richard??
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Chuck Kimmerle
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« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2010, 09:26:11 AM »
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I fall in the camp that suggests continuing to photograph on a regular basis.  Any skill improves with practice as muscles develop with exercise.  Of course you can overdo it, but making sure to pull the camera out and try new things is essential to your growth.  If your not growing, you are stagnating.

Also, you need to accept the possibly that photography is no longer your thing.  That's okay too.  When you can face that possibility and continue to do it, I think you will find serenity and pleasure in.  

I think the thing that I struggle with is having a drought of good work...this can be the result of bad luck or life circumstances that keep me away from photographic opportunities that I enjoy.  Lately I have had a long drought of good bird photography.  It was becoming less fun. I was losing motivation, but I went out anyway and I finally got this shot.  I am rejuvenated.

Trailpixie.net: Dive-Bombed by a Raptor With a Dead Fish
« Last Edit: April 14, 2010, 09:26:43 AM by fike » Logged

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RichardGilbert
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« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2010, 02:55:46 PM »
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Quote from: ckimmerle
Let's ask Richard what the deal is?

Richard??

HAHA! You sound like my therapist.

Honestly the problem isn't with motivation of shooting. The problem is the fear that I have reached my potential in the quality of my images. I see other images and I'm blown away... obviously everybody who shoots wants their images to have an emotional impact on the audience. So to sum it up, my "brick wall" is image quality not in motivation.

BTW That's a bad ass bird shot!
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Sgt. Richard V. Gilbert
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"What can I say?! I like shooting stuff!"
ckimmerle
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« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2010, 04:10:28 PM »
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Richard,

If perceived quality is your "brick wall", you might find it useful to get some feedback. Post one or two photos in the critique forum and see if that helps. Or, if you're not into public baring of your soul, contact a couple of photographers and ask for a few minutes of their time.

I took a chance a couple of years ago and contacted a very, very well-known and wonderful photographer who graciously agreed to look through 20 of my prints and give me a 30 minute critique  I learned nothing grand or life-altering, but instead was treated to small insights and tips that I think about even to this day. My work is much better for the experience.

I'm not saying you have to find a world-class photographer to pester, but perhaps you can ask advice of friends, or friends of friends, who are artists or photographers. Feedback can be humbling, but it can also help move you past that brick wall.

Chuck
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"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust

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RichardGilbert
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« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2010, 10:29:36 AM »
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Great advice! I'll try that!
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Sgt. Richard V. Gilbert
USMC Retired
Scout/Sniper

"What can I say?! I like shooting stuff!"
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