Your Images are Making Me Fall Asleep

Your Images are Making Me Fall Asleep

It's time to be honest with yourself. It's time to ask some hard questions about your work and answer them straightforwardly, even if you hurt your own feelings. Grab a pen and paper, drop your ego, and tackle these questions. 

If you're feeling like I have a gargantuan ego and you're cueing up to tear me to shreds in the comments, don't worry, if you read my own answers you wouldn't be rushing to your keyboard. I am constantly having these conversations with myself and I'm nowhere near a 10. And anyways, this article is about you, not me.

How is your work? Honestly though. Are you surprising yourself by the pieces which you are deliberately crafting? Or are you continuing, somewhat uninspired, with the passable shots you rotely share on the gram?

by Michelle VanTine Photography

Let's tackle these questions. 

1) On a Scale of 1 to 10, With 10 Being the Most Inspiring Photography You’ve Ever Seen, How Do You Rate Your Own Images?

If you kept reading without stopping and answering the question, I challenge you to stop and answer it. What is your number? Are you producing at your maximum potential? Are you creating work which you're very proud of, yet you know you have even more if you push yourself? Are you having to be honest and admit that your imagery is a little lackluster? Do you know your work is mediocre but you're too busy or too tired to do anything about it?

2) What Are My Strengths as a Photographer? 

The heat's off on this one. What are you great at? What is it about your images that's really working? What do you love about your images? What's the genius in your work that comes only from your unique mind? In the business world, entrepreneurs are encouraged to spend the majority of their work hours executing tasks that are in their "zone of genius". What is your "vision of genius"? What's a "very you" shot? 

by Michelle VanTine Photography

3) What Are the Areas That My Work Is Weak?

(Flips furnace back on)

American physicist Richard Feynman said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool." 

In what area do you need most growth? Is it off-camera lighting, editing, concept creation, or creativity? Maybe it's that your images are all over the place and you lack a trademark style. Maybe it's just that your shots are boring and you need to spice them up. Maybe it's knowing trade secrets (like getting those perfectly spherical water-i.e. glycerin-droplets) or techniques (like panning for sports imagery). Jot down 2 of 3 areas where your work needs growth. 

4) Is My Work Significantly Better This Year Than It Was Last Year?

The key word here is significantly. If it is, bravo! Keep growing. Many of the photographers we admire have been perfecting their craft for decades. It's not helpful to compare your work to theirs. Be inspired by their work; but only compare your recent images to your previous images: those from one, three and five years ago. If your work is not significantly better, why isn't it? Dig into that a little. 

Photograph by Michelle VanTine Photography

And finally...

5) What Skill Do I Need To Learn That I Haven’t Invested the Time to Master?

Here are some ideas:

Strobe Photography
Flash (including handheld flash)
In-camera double exposure
Post-processing (Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One)
Posing for portraiture
Business classes on marketing
Drone Photography
Using reflectors or VFlats
Long exposures
Digital Compositing or photo stacking

There are tremendous amounts of resources out there. YouTube has given us access to the biggest names in the industry at no cost. In addition to YouTube videos, I routinely take intensive classes to really dig into a topic from platforms such as FstoppersPhLearnCreative Live, etc. I've taken classes from all three of these platforms: everything from splash photography, to retouching hair, advanced cloning, product photography, retouching skin, portrait photography and more. The investment pays off tenfold. You can also attend a workshop or seek mentoring opportunities. There are seemingly limitless ways to improve in your craft.

THIS Creative Live class on lighting with Felix Kunze and THIS  frequency separation class by PhLearn helped me to be able to produce beauty work like this. 

(Furnace is off; sigh of relief.)

Although some of the questions required some hard honesty, I hope you took the time to answer them. The great adventure of being an artist is discovering what else you have within you. I'll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite books, "Art & Fear" by David Bayles

“Making art means working in the face of uncertainty; it means living with doubt and contradiction, doing something no one much cares whether you do, and for which there may be neither audience nor reward. Making the work you want to make means setting aside these doubts so that you may see clearly what you have done, and thereby see where to go next. Making the work you want to make means finding nourishment within the work itself.”

If you're feeling brave share some of your answers in the comments below. I would love to hear what you're crushing, what you want to improve on, and what your social media handle is so I can check out your journey. 

Happy clicking. 

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5 Comments
Tony G's picture

An interesting article. How are the clicks? Not high probably due to the confronting notion of self-examination [and no presence of gear review clickbait!].

I have images that are quite good and I know why others are not. While I like to be diverse and learn new things, I know my weaknesses and usually wait for the opportunity to explore them as needed.
I do know that I will not pander to the many stereotypes that abound in photography, except as a base for further expression. Stay different.

Photography has been a personal journey for me and I do feel that I am inproving. I have been uploading one picture a day, every day, for two years to a photography website. My ranking on this website is high. I am popular. I will accept that as evidence.

Then, I compare myself to others on the site and realise that, rather than the quality of work, they seem to rely upon the social networks they have established which are more important than the quality of shot, for most of them anyway. Yes, I do have a social network, too.
There is also a propensity of the site to promote people who pay $9.95 per month to subscribe over lowly minions such as myself who do not and are limited to one upload every 12 hours. More validation for me, I suppose.
And as a part of monetising the site to encourage subscribers, a whole heap of trash pictures are promoted that are not great.

So, this site is a flawed mechanism for the purpose of validation and personal growth. Better than nothing. I look forward to other suggestions that are more useful and can better assuage my ego.

Bye...

Michelle VanTine's picture

Tony thank you for your reply. Sadly, not as much response as I had expected. It sounds like you're doing a great job. Consistently creating and thinking about your work, being intentional. I only see two images on your profile, but they are very nice.

Tony G's picture

Thanks. Now I have intentionally uploaded two more pics!
LOL, Best Wishes...

Michelle VanTine's picture

Oh la la. Very nice. Keep clicking away! Have a great weekend