Sunday, May 25, 2014

Practicing and Challenging to Become an Expert Photographer

She's going to be naked in a forest with a giant sheet hanging behind her. That's my new vision. I'm trying something new this month to push my comfort zone and improve my photography skills. Miggy and I have gone to the library a few times this month and each time he comes home with a giant stack of books. Last week, he was reading about "Expertise" and he gave me a little lecture in all the must know key points from his study session. The main point you need to hear about is this:

To become an expert in something, you need to be regularly putting yourself in uncomfortable and challenging situations that force you to learn new techniques, experiment, learn from specialists, and overcome the obstacles. 

The 6 months I spent in Hawaii at a photography studio (we were always shooting on the beach in hot bright sunshine) was a fantastic example of this point. Coming from the PNW, I was afraid to shoot in the bright hot sun. I was under the impression that hot sunshine is the photographer's enemy. But in Hawaii, I had no choice. Sweat was dripping down my back, my eyes hurt from squinting, my feet were dry from the sand, my thighs were chaffing from sweat and sand that stuck to my skin — it was not a pretty picture. BUT.... while dealing with all of that, I still had to take pretty pictures. My boss had been shooting on Maui's sunny beaches for 7 years and I definitely consider her to be a hot sunshine photography specialist. She showed me tricks, drew diagrams, critiqued every shoot I did, and gave me the chance to practice over and over. When I left Hawaii, I was so comfortable shooting in sun (almost more comfortable that in the shade — I know, crazy!) and I was a much better photographer overall because I was constantly being challenged and therefore improving.

Now that I'm back in Seattle, I'm looking for new ways to keep the challenge and growth alive. I'm playing with food photography, wedding videography, landscape photography and of course women's portraits. And as I mentioned before, my current challenge is nude portraits in my outdoor studio. Let's see what happens!


How are you challenging yourself to become an expert?