I'm a portrait photographer. I think that is pretty obvious by my portfolio being completely full of people photos. The nature of the portraits I shoot varies from time to time, but ultimately I make images of humans almost exclusively. Being specialized is great, and even critical, according to many, in regards to creating a photography career. There really isn't any doubt it in that. However, don't let that specialization bar you from ever trying out other types of photography.
This year, I decided to complete a little personal project that had nothing to do with portraiture. The goal of this project was to experiment with another genre of photography to learn about how it may change the nature of how I use my camera. After a whole lot of thinking (procrastinating), I ended on settling with giving food/drink photography a whirl. I knew it was going to be a wildly different experience that would challenge me in new creative ways.
I knew that I probably would never be putting any of the images in my portfolio, which I haven't, but I also knew that there was absolute no pressure. I could return to that style of photography that we all started out doing. Photography that was purely for ourselves and fueled by pure creativity. No expectations, no deadlines, and no rules. Art for the sake of art.
Much to the delight of my friends I bought a whole bunch of food "subjects" that I thought looked amazing but were not things that I am unable to consume. I then started shooting. Lots of trial and error ensued. So much so that my poor pup must have thought I was insane spending so many hours walking around adjusting lights and camera gear around such delicious smelling snacks. I ended up spending several full weekends over the course of a couple months before I felt that my little experiment was done. The results of which you can see throughout this article.
Overall, the process was a blast, it didn't feel like work and I learned a wide variety of new techniques, both through experimentation, and through the glory of Google. The experiment has taught me to re-define the way I think about photography and allowed me to fall back in love with the simple act of creating. It has also fueled the inspiration for another, similar, project that I recently started working on.
I love to love photography. Sometimes the day to day grind wears on that love of photography by anchoring it down with expectation, stress, deadlines, etc. I feel it is so important to foster that love. No one ever picked up a camera because they thought it was a great business to pursue vocation in. We all grabbed our camera because we loved the creativity of making photos. For some, that creativity has become a career, for others, it has remained a cherished hobby, Regardless, all of us need to remember to take steps back from time to time to remember why we picked up that camera to begin with. Fuel your soul by trying something new. Break free of that troubling box that only serves to crush your momentum. Finally, don't let excuses bog you down, the only thing holding you back, is you. If you truly have the drive, you will carve out the opportunity to foster your passion and make it a reality. What are you waiting for? Get crackin'!