It can be a challenge to work full time and still find ways to stretch yourself as a photographer including finding ways to be creative. There are a few things I do to try to challenge myself so I know I am growing my skills and pushing myself creatively while I work a full time job outside of the home.
No.01Pick a new technique to learn.
I read about using intentional camera movement for a dramatic effect in The Visual Toolbox (when it was available in an ebook) and kept thinking I needed to wait until I found the right place or the right time. But, realized that there wasn’t anything stopping me from just heading to the backyard and giving it a try.
I was surprised at how much fun I had and how much I liked the results. The practice in the backyard led me to be more confident with this technique when I tried it other places like the street & the beach. The best part about trying a new technique is that after some practice you can either add it to the techniques that become part of your style or move on to something new. But learning a new technique will always help you grow as a photographer.
No.02Look for a variety of subjects to shoot.
When I originally started to learn more & more about photography, especially the technical aspects of it, people (mostly family & gracious friends) were my main subjects. But, after a while I found myself looking for other subjects to shoot. After a long day at work (and school for my son) I didn’t always want to try to convince him to sit for me while I figured out some new technique. This is one reason I turned to food and still life (like flowers and other objects around the house but mostly food).
I could plan a food session ahead of time right down to all the details including props, lighting, location and best of all that kind of practice didn’t depend on anyone’s cooperation. You can even practice your food photography skills after dark like Trisha shows in her Food Photography Post. One book I found super helpful when I was starting out with food was Plate to Pixel because she goes through it all (gear, props, shooting, editing) which is perfect for someone beginning with food photography.
No.03Plan to attend local photographer meetups for the weekends.
Check out local photographer meetups in your area and try to find people with an interest in photography so you have activities to look forward to during the work week. I have attended a few photo walks and met up with local photographers for coffee just to chat about photography. It can be so refreshing to find friends who want to chat non-stop about gear, settings, shooting, and all things photography related. When I know I have a meetup scheduled it gives me something to be excited about during the long work days.
Photowalks can be fun & they can be a great way to expand your skills. It’s always cool to see how someone else approaches shooting a certain place (or thing or person). When you are with people in this kind of setting you can ask about their gear, their setting choices, etc and learn from others. You might even meet someone who becomes a friend or someone you can plan shootouts with locally. Photowalks also give you a unique way to see parts of the city where you live. The first image below is from a meetup with a local photographer & the second image is from a photowalk.
This could fit in with the 1st tip, try a new technique, but I see it as a little different. I experiment a lot with photography. I don’t post everything I try online, I don’t even always edit or keep everything I try. But, I have learned a ton just by experimenting. I have experimented with subjects (people, food, places) and some of it works and some of it doesn’t work yet I learn from it all.
I have learned about light and camera settings and about my personal preferences (my style) from simply experimenting. It is one thing to read about how to create a certain kind of image, let’s take shooting in backlight for example, and it is a completely different thing to actually get out there with your camera and experiment. Once you upload to the computer you can review the images and see what you can do differently the next time to improve. I have asked my son to stand in the backyard and shot a portrait from all angles as I walked around him just to see how the light falls on his face. Then when I upload to the computer I can see which type of lighting helps enhance my vision for the portrait…dark & moody or light & airy.
Do you work full time? How do you boost your creativity?