I spent this last year doing a photographic cleanse, It’s kind of like spring cleaning. You focus on what you need most in your photography, in terms of lighting, editing and education, and you throw everything else out. It was not only extremely important for my growth both professionally and personally, but also for my sanity.
ELIMINATING THE NOISE AND SAVE TIME
These last few years, I found myself spending a lot of my free time watching educational videos, reading educational blogs, and attending photographic conferences, which after a while started turning into white noise. Being bombarded with so much useful information is great, but how much can you really retain? How much can you really use? There’s so much thrown your way that it can be difficult to decipher what’s really important.
I think that’s where a photographic cleanse is important. By identifying what information is really relevant to you in the world of photographic education, you can eliminate the excess. Regardless if you’re an established professional or a beginner photographer, focus on which elements of your work you’d like to improve on one by one.
Say today you want to learn B&W conversion techniques. Spend your time learning B&W conversion techniques. Don’t start learning retouching, color grading and posing techniques simultaneously the same day. It’s not easy to retain and if you’re like me, and you are easily distracted while watching videos online and fall into the blackhole that is YouTube, limit your viewing time. Set a designated time that you’re going to stop watching youtube videos and stick with it. I cannot tell you how many times that I’ve found myself up at 2am watching cat videos when I was originally watching a creativeLIVE segment.
On that same note, I’m a big advocate for proficiency vs. mastery if you’re a professional working photographer. You don’t necessarily need to master a technique - be it lighting or editing in order to be able to utilize it. Learn enough of the core concepts in order to use it efficiently and effectively. One of my favorite authors, Josh Kaufman - The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business - says “…the idea of “mastering” a skill when you’re just getting started is counterproductive: it can be a significant barrier to exploring a new skill in the first place.”
Two Images taken with one Profoto D1 w/ Westcott Zepplin. I share a ton of these images on my Facebook Page.
BACK TO THE BASICS
As a photographer, you should photograph the style of work you want to be hired for, regardless if you're currently getting paid to do so or need to make it a personal project. Earlier this year I decided to make a list of clients that I wanted to potentially photograph, and in doing so I realized all of my work didn’t necessarily match their current aesthetic. I had a few images that fit, but not every image was usable. Most of the other images in my portfolio were over-lit or over-retouched. My portfolio didn't convey that I was capable of photographing their style of work. I decided to do a little cleaning.
I spent a week shooting content that would replace the images that didn't fit in my portfolio. I photographed work that I felt would both emulate the aesthetic of my ideal clients and that fit me like a glove. After my week of photographic cleansing, not only was my portfolio more seamless, but I was also spending less time lighting and editing. Spending less time setting up lights on set gave me the opportunity to sit with my team to socialize and network. Spending less time editing gave me the opportunity to spend more time marketing my business and reaching out new potential clients. It was a win - win situation.
I would sincerely recommend a photographic cleanse for any photographer interested in de-cluttering their brains. It can really make a difference in your work and your anxiety when you have less to control. Focus on the most important aspects of your work and throw out the rest!
If you're interested on tips on how to focus on the basics, check out my Men's Portrait Photography Class on creativeLIVE on November 24th and 25th!