How To Find Your Voice
It is not just enough to be good you have got to find your own unique voice. The question is how?
Focus on what interests you
This may seem obvious, but there are still a lot of people who go about this all the wrong way. They ask themselves, “What field of photography has the most demand right now? What area will be the most lucrative?” And then they go out and try to fit themselves into that picture.
But you will never be as successful doing this as you could be taking pictures of what interests you.
Why? Because when you are interested in something, you will enjoy it more. You will go out of your way to portray it in a good light. You will be more creative and want to try new things. This is so important and yet most people do not even think twice about it.
Ask yourself: “How could I do this in another way?”
If you are serious about photography, you should always be taking pictures of what you are most passionate about. But it is also just as beneficial to try new things and take pictures of different subjects, too. This does not necessarily mean forcing yourself to take pictures of things that you are not interested in, but finding ways of taking pictures of anything in such a way that you find it interesting. It pushes you to always stay fresh and always continue learning and growing. Reading books and taking classes is fine, but I believe that the best teacher is firsthand experience. If you are continually searching for new subjects and new ways of photographing them then you are keeping yourself on your toes, and you work will never become stale.
Passion and excitement are the fires that fuel brilliance, and in order to keep that flame stoked you will need to look for ways to keep your own interest pulsing within you.
Avoid the creativity killer
Contrary to popular belief, reading more books and taking more classes does not always make you a better photographer. Do not get me wrong; they can be incredibly helpful tools that help you learn and grow to an extent. However, there is a point that most photographers reach where studying and learning stops being helpful and becomes counterproductive. How do you know that you have reached that point?
When you find yourself critiquing and criticising your work more than you are simply enjoying it.
Photography is not supposed to be perfect. There are technical tools that we can use to improve our photographs, but they are only that: tools not rules. Just like people, photos are technically imperfect and yet that is what makes them so beautiful. Each photo is an impression of a moment in time that will never again be recaptured. And only you, from your unique viewpoint, have the ability to take that picture.
Take photos every single day
Most photographers believe that searching for the problems and imperfections is not just the best way to improve, but the only way to improve. I disagree. Although this can be helpful to an extent, it is way more beneficial to just go out and take photos.
In fact, this is the best way to get good at anything: do it. Over and over and over and over and over again. By doing it, you train yourself to see the beauty in things and intuitively find the best angles. You get to the point where you do not even have to think about it any more because it comes so naturally.
Take hundreds of photos. Do not limit yourself. Yes, you can ask yourself as you are taking the picture, “How can I make this better? How can I frame this in order to enhance the features that I want?” But in this day and age, there is no excuse not to take a photo if something catches your eye. With a digital camera, there are no negative consequences for filling up your memory card.
Do not worry if you “miss” opportunities
Photography is not how many shots you get or miss, it is about how many you take and keep taking. I have missed thousands of great shots and screwed up thousands more. I take more “bad” photos than good, and though I do feel disappointed sometimes when I really wanted to get something and it did not work out, I always shrug my shoulders and say, “hey, it was not meant to be.” Then I get out my camera, and go take some more pictures.
Take photos because you love to and for no other reason
The most important thing you can do to improve your photos and find your unique voice is to HAVE FUN!
Is it really that simple?
When you are having fun and trying new things and exploring and enjoying yourself, you are naturally more creative. Ideas will occur to you that you never thought of before. Things will naturally fall into place. Having fun is the key to being good.
Taking beautiful photographs is something that comes from the heart, not the mind. So many photographers spend all their energy researching the perfect equipment and collecting fancy lenses and filters. They strive for the technically perfect photo, and if they do not achieve it they criticise their own work and hide it away.
Do those things that feed your soul eat delicious foods, read inspiring books, spend time with creative people, listen to music that transports you to a whole new world. It is often in those moments when you are simply enjoying life that the best ideas occur or you have the most wonderful photo opportunities.
Those very things that inspire you are often hints and nudges in the direction that you could take your photography to move it to the next level.