Recently I was sent a YouTube video of an artist who spent a huge amount of time creating drawings using MS Paint. The end product was decent enough, even impressive if you consider the tool he was using, but if you were to eliminate knowledge of his method it would merely be a mediocre, unimpressive digital painting. How amazing could this guy’s work be if he didn’t arbitrarily limit himself? This is clearly an extremely talented artist that is limiting the quality of his work by stubbornly insisting on using an inefficient tool. Which, of course, got me to thinking about how as photographers, we have a tendency to do the exact same thing.
I Only Shoot With Natural Light
I have heard this one too many times to count: A stubborn photographer refuses to learn how to use artificial lighting because they have convinced themselves that natural light is somehow is better.
The reality is that by refusing to learn how to artificially light a scene, they are creating a tremendous vulnerability in their skill set that could impact their ability to deliver a high-quality photo in any situation.
If you prefer to shoot in “natural light,” that is great, you absolutely should when you can but as a professional you should be fully prepared to still deliver quality images in the event that environmental light just isn’t sufficient to get the job done.
I Don’t Edit My Photos
In certain circles, Photoshop seems to have garnered a rather negative stigma akin to “cheating” or "lying.” I often come across photographers who like to boast that they don’t edit photos as if it is some sort of badge of honor. Stubbornly refusing to learn how to edit only serves to reduce the potential quality of the service you provide. Even if you can usually deliver high-quality images without the need of a tool like Photoshop, it is inevitable that at some point a situation will arise where your ability to deliver the product a client expects hinges on your ability to make a specific edit in post.
There is nothing wrong with preferring not to edit or retouch, but that is no excuse for not being able to when a client needs you to.
I Only Use Prime Lenses
I’m often guilty of this one. My lens kit is a neat little collection of fast primes. Generally, if you hand me a zoom my nose will wrinkle into a begrudging sneer as I begin to whine about how much better primes are.
Sometimes you just aren’t in a situation where zooming with your feet is viable, a situation where constantly switching lenses is too slow to get the job done, or a situation where despite your abhorrence of zoom lenses they become the tool that will get the job done.
I Only Shoot In Manual Mode
Oh, bugger, another one that I’m guilty of. My camera lives in manual mode and when I accidently change it, a “dirty” feeling washes over me. My mind immediately jumps to the thought that a “real” photographer should be comfortable manually controlling their camera. I’m not wrong but sometimes a situation pops up where adjusting manually just isn’t fast enough to get the shot.
A real professional should be prepared to use almost any technique if it means a better chance of creating images that meet the quality that the client expects.
Break Free Of Your Restrictions
The time has come: shed the shackles of your arbitrary, self-imposed restrictions. Think about your process and how you can unshackle yourself of those stubborn, usually irrational limitations that seem to have become more about creating an illusion of elite identity than actually improving the quality of your work.