by Juli-Ann Cialone Published 01/11/2007
As photographers we live an often busy and unpredictable life. Wedding clientele never take up the same exact weekends from year to year, nor do they each take the same time or require the same album or imagery. Meanwhile, portrait clients come to us for a variety of reasons and rarely follow a yearly schedule, even around common holidays. Commercial clients pop up all over the place when the need is there but it is often a last minute requirement. All the latter makes for is a fairly chaotic lifestyle, often leading to our own personal lives being cast aside. While, on a week-to-week basis, we can set aside time for family and activities, we often forget that we are all photographer/artists not just photographer/business men and women. Our inner artist still exists; the artist that doesn't get paid for pressing a button, the artist that gets immense inner satisfaction at the emotion, beauty and character captured on film, the artist that works 24/7 and never seems to stop looking for that next great visual moment.
Taking the time out to understand this inner artist can be an incredible emotional and creative release. Whilst there is great satisfaction, in providing a product to a client that they appreciate and adore, there is an even greater satisfaction in opening one's eyes to new ideas and inspirations. And by pursuing the inner artist in ourselves, not only do we find enjoyment in its pursuit, but we improve our skills for our clientele and make our day-to-day job more interesting.
There are perhaps hundreds of projects for us to pursue. I have met those who have gone back into studying fine art or art history for inspiration. I have met others who have sharpened their skills by integrating their photographic job with another hobby such as sports or travel. In this article, I intend to focus on my own personal journeys and how they enhance my life and improve my career both practically and spiritually.
In the past few years, as our studio has grown globally, I have been lucky to have had the opportunity to travel to new, exciting places. When I first embarked, I was honestly quite nervous - would my clients in these other regions find my work appealing? Would my equipment work and would I find my comfort zone as I photographed in these new and unpredictable places? In fact, those initial nerves vanished almost immediately as the excitement and subsequent energy inspired me to go beyond my normal work comfort zone. My images were certainly more dynamic and my vision seemed to be a bit less focused than usual, opening my mind up to new compositions and lighting techniques. I felt invigorated and craving more new (and again unpredictable) situations to challenge me.
Taking this sudden new desire in mind, I began to conceive of how to recreate the scenario but without the issue of pleasing a client and more the issue of pleasing myself for once. I am certainly guilty of having overthought the latter - how many days would I need? Where would I go? Etc... In reality, none of that mattered. I can very well take a day off from my normal everyday life and job, and explore my abilities in my hometown if I chose to do so. For me, although the thrill of travelling to a new city or country definitely has an impact, the challenge of seeing life a bit differently can truly be done in my own backyard. If you cannot afford to travel, just afford the time to leave your office, even once every few months to stretch your skills.
I also want to emphasize that all of what I am about to encourage might seem a lot like a homework assignment and not much fun at all. Perhaps for some photographers it will be! But if you give it a try, as I have time and time again, you will find it not work at all - but a challenging adventure into photography for the sake of improving one's skills and imagination.
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