A Photographic Growth Spurt

Someone once told me, a photographer, not to take a photo of them but a video instead. This statement was not to be taken literally; it was more of a metaphor for how we look at people and form opinions. The idea is we all change. What she was trying to say was she is not the same person she was ten years back as she is today, don’t view her by her past. Take a video, because we all change. If someone was to form an opinion of who she is, view her for who she is today, not a static image of her from 10 years ago.

I like this idea and I have tried to live by it, but it is hard. We all do change, daily, if not moment by moment, in every way. I was reminded of this just yesterday when I was looking through my old Lightroom catalog. I was reviewing several old images from five or six years back. I noticed how over-processed they were. What was I thinking? In looking at theses old photos, I felt I was looking at old pictures of me from the 70’s, dressed in crazy bell bottoms and looking awkward.

I thought there must be a lesson in this somewhere. We are always changing, moving and hopefully growing in our craft and vision (pardon the pun). Every so often we need to step back and look at our body of work. Maybe ask a few questions?

It would be helpful to ask yourself, how have I changed in my photo processing? For me, I use less Clarity and less Vibrance. I use my Blacks and Whites slider completely different than I used the older Fill Light and Blacks sliders in Lightroom 4.

 

I photograph far few children, unless they are a part of the story.

 

My subjects have changed a little, too. I find I photograph fewer children today than I did six years ago. I think this is less that I find children less interesting and more that I find culture has changed, and children have become more dangerous to photograph. Photographing a random child in some countries can get you into deep trouble with the law. In others, it just makes you look like a pervert. I still find children interesting and still enjoy photographing them as a part of a story or for an assignment, but for my personal work, they are pretty much off limits.

Lastly, even though I am a much older dog, I still feel I can learn a few new tricks. I have really enjoyed and appreciated leading workshops with Piet Van den Eynde, my personal off-camera flash guru. Piet has pushed me to use flash in places I would never have used flash in the past and with amazing results.

All this to say, I hope you are pushing yourself. I hope you look back at your photographic catalog and cringe. If not, then you may be stagnating and it’s time for a photographic growth spurt.

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About Matt Brandon

Matt is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by business and organizations around the globe. Matt also on the design board for Think Tank Photo, a camera bag manufacturer.

In 2013 Matt founded the On Field Media Project to train the staff of non-profits to use appropriate technology to produce timely as well as quality images.

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