I’m definitely a creative brain. I’ve never excelled in academic situations, and always favoured artistic subjects. But ironically, one thing I don’t enjoy is artistic freedom. For me, it’s too daunting to have a world of opportunity in the projects I’m involved in, instead favouring limitations and guidelines. It’s with these that I find creativity is allowed to be its most free.
Photography is no different. And while I allow myself to do whatever I want whenever I want, I have my own rules that have helped me excel in my photography skills. So, here they are!
Be consistently vibrant.
I had a conversation with Daniel Tran about a month ago about his methods of making his gallery stand out. One of his tips was to aim for all of his photos to be consistently similar in vibrancy, saturation and tone. This really struck me, as I used to be really concerned with over-saturating my shots and often left everything a bit too faded and dull. Now, I often find myself boosting colours a little more than I think is enough, because often at a second glance I’m still playing things too safe.
Let things simmer.
Because I always try and have a few images ready to post on Instagram just in case I can’t shoot for whatever reason, it gives me a chance to let my edits sit for a day or two so I can look at them with fresh eyes and see what needs changing.
Quite often when I look at things the next day, I’ll want more contrast or more colour. Because social media like Instagram is so quick to consume, often the first look is your last. By letting everything simmer and looking at it later, you can replicate that first glance someone else would have if they were scrolling down the explore page.
This is also a good way to make sure that banger you got yesterday is actually any good. Sometimes after a second glance I’ll realise it wasn’t as good as I remembered.
I’ve always envied great black and white photography, and a phrase I often found myself muttering was “I really need to take more black and white photos.” Well, after my conversation with Daniel, I made it a rule to post a black and white photo in between all of my coloured photos – for a few reasons. The first, to simply take more black and white photos. And the second, to break up my Instagram gallery because it was starting to look like a cluttered mess. Thus, a somewhat chessboard-looking gallery was born.
This was one of the best moves I’ve made in my photography career. It pushes me so much harder than I used to push myself. Good black and white photos are actually really bloody hard to get!
This one’s more of a personal growth than a rule, but both fall into the category of mentality so what the hey. One big thing I’m working on improving is not bothering about missing a good sunrise, sunset or other great photography condition. In fact, I’m actually typing this now as a great sunrise is happening. As a landscape photographer, I’m going to miss hundreds of these, and you know what? Another one is right around the corner. Now, the recent aurora in Tasmania is a different story – that won’t happen again for possibly decades. Nonetheless, it really isn’t a big deal in the long run.
This one’s more important to me because, and I’m not proud to admit, I once missed an amazing sunset at a new location that I rarely get to visit and I was so sour that I ended up silencing myself and ruining someone’s birthday. Definitely one of my lowest points.
Room to grow and change.
As I grow and develop as a photographer, no doubt my rules will too. It’s also possible that I have more rules burned into my subconscious that will become more prevalent in the future. And as much as I love restricting myself I don’t let these rules hold me down. If I want to break them, I will – but only if my reasons are good (being lazy isn’t good enough).
For now though, let’s make the complicated simple and the simple complicated!