Every aspiring photographer has a story to tell about their journey to find a niche or subject of inspiration. All such journeys are comprised of ups, downs, and plateaus. However, something (or someone) sparked your initial interest in photography, so don’t give up on yourself as a photographer. Take a moment and think about what gave you your start. Are you still taking the same types of photos (e.g., landscapes, still life, products) or have you moved on to other genres? As fun and interesting as photography can be, you can find yourself feeling stuck in a creative rut.
To break out of a photo rut, try expanding your comfort zone, thinking outside your normal “go-to” subjects, and pushing through unfortunate photographic flops that are bound to happen. Everyone’s journey toward a preferred style or genre is different. Luckily, you can find an amazing amount of inspiration and information on the Internet, including many useful tutorials.
My own journey as a photographer has evolved through several stages. I began with nature and wildlife photography, and it was all about “capturing the moment.” I wanted to capture the beauty of the world around me and share it with others. My father, who also has a passion for photography, has always said, “A moment is like a ripple in time, and the same moment will never happen twice.” Nature and wildlife—together with this philosophy and a desire to spend time with my father —served as my starting point.
When I went to college, I was introduced to other styles and genres of photography that broadened my scope of interest and focus. I learned about portrait photography, which is fun and challenging in both studio and environmental settings. I also experimented with architecture, street, food, and product photography, and took classes in Photoshop.
Through these experiences, I learned a lot about creating moments, not just capturing them. I also discovered a mix of these two approaches—first, creating an environment, then working within it to capture a moment. Photo editing software can play a major role in capturing and creating moments in different genres. The only limit to the possibilities is you. Your imagination and willingness to learn will determine where your art can go, and your skills will improve through trial and error. Whatever software you use, don’t be afraid to play with photo manipulation because it can lead to unexpected results and open new worlds of possibility.
For example, I originally used Photoshop to fix an image or make simple edits to enhance a photograph. Now I use Photoshop to create artistic works–for example, a series of photographs on which I am currently working called “Nature with a Twist,” where I take photos of landscapes and then manipulate the color to create fantasy landscapes, the type you might imagine from reading a book. Learning and experimenting with this project has been so much fun and has helped to broaden my perspective. I now see possibilities everywhere I go. In fact, with several recent projects, I have leveraged Photoshop to create moments from my imagination. In the process, I have learned that we can capture moments in the world around us, or we can create them within the world of our imaginations. It’s up to you to determine the best way to represent your moments in time.
In short, if you find yourself lacking motivation or inspiration as a photographer, challenge yourself to try something new. Start small if a new idea or different genre makes you nervous. For example, if you specialize in portraits, try working with still-life or street photography. Personally, I have shared a lot of great laughs with friends and family as I fumbled my way through photographic experiments. Just remember to have fun and don’t limit yourself. Photography has so many wonderful things to teach us about ourselves and the world. You simply have to give it your best and allow yourself to enjoy the journey.