Grow as a Photographer by Giving Up These Things

I think all of us in creative fields are constantly thinking about how to take our work to the next level. For me personally I feel like the next level of improvement is always haunting my thoughts. As I make the transition from an amateur to whatever comes after that I am finding there are some huge changes that need to be made to take me to that next level. As always this advice comes from my own personal experiences.

Worthless Shoots - Say "No" to the shoots that either don't benefit or don't interest. 
This is a hard one because sometimes I get shoots that benefit me but don't interest me and sometimes I get shoots that interest me but don't benefit me. And other times I get shoot requests for shoots that don't interest or benefit me and yet I still feel obligated. You don't see professionals having this problem. Professionals set a standard for themselves and the work they accept and rarely deviate outside of their plan. This is a process of clearly defining your scope of work and what you are willing to do. There comes a time where photographer's need to take hold of their brand and be able to say no to things that don't fit their scope of work. My interest is people and mainly fashion. I will shoot seniors and families of course but that isn't my main goal. I want to be a published fashion photographer so I need to take jobs that a published fashion photographer would take. So my goal is next time a shoot comes up that I really don't think has potential in what I want to do, I need to say no. Next time a shoot comes up that I can't use in my portfolio that needs to be a definite no.

Comparisons - Know what your style is and stop comparing to everyone else.
I have a gigantic book of magazine tearsheets that I have been collecting for years just full of my inspirational images from other photographers. This can help or hinder. Sometimes I need a creative boost to get myself going and looking at images is a great way to get thinking creatively. But sometimes looking at another photographer's work can really get my mind in a rut. I think it is important as creatives to take time to let your mind just think about your own ideas. Take time to think about what your style is and what you love about an image. There are so many mental distractions out there from the internet, media and print advertising to have you only thinking along the lines of what has already been done. I challenge you, photographers (and myself), to stop copying what has already been done but really force yourself to spend some mind time in "blank" mental space. Your creative work is a blank canvas, if you come at it with your own ideas, but if you spend all your time looking through other people's work you come to a canvas already covered in colors, pictures and shapes, not your own, and you are simply left to modify what has already been done. I don't want to be a modifier of other work, that leaves me to simply be mediocre.

Old Mentors - Find someone new to push you out of your box.
Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and ask for advice and critique from someone in your area of interest who has been doing it for a long time. If you continue to learn from the same people you will get the same results. Simple concept right?

Those are my 3 big tips for the day (mostly talking to myself)! Hope you enjoyed seeing a piece of my journey and as always please feel free to ask questions here -


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