You probably already know how to use your camera to get the images you want. Maybe you have a style that’s recognized miles away, a repeatable workflow, and people who love your photos. Well what now? Is it still fun? What are you doing to stimulate new growth? Consider taking a step back. Simplify, let go and stop trying so hard.
Let it go
I’ve experienced a lot of growth in the past year. The restrictions imposed by pandemics and natural disasters created many surprising opportunities. It was also exhausting.
During this time I started thinking about which subjects and styles I avoid and why. For example, I like studio lights and low ISO, but I avoid lens flare. For me, lens flares were a mistake, but it was time to let go. I decided to approach things in a way that would have been unthinkable for me before.
Simple ideas with Lexi
A portrait I wanted to make was in an old, dimly lit horse stable. The idea was simple: light my subject with a Yongnuo flasha fly-through umbrella and a Pocket Wizard radio trigger. Lexi stood inside facing away from the bright entrance and the strobe did all the work. The results were pretty good once I got the focus set, but it took a little more effort than I expected.
I asked Lexi to turn to face the entrance. Sunlight reflected off the cement floor, added by the flash.
Spontaneously she did a good stretch with her arms above her head to loosen up a bit. I liked how it looked and asked her to redo it. As a result. she turned her face in the light and the portrait was beautiful. The rest of the session just got a lot more fun because we were now to play.
We’ve simplified even more
We played with the natural light and used the environment as our modifier. Some of the photos were set in a garden with light bouncing off a wall. Soon we threw most of the stuff away and were left with the essentials: A Canon EOS RP, Canon 135mm f/2.0 and one battery. We just let things happen.
Lexi is great because she’s so authentic. She’s your classic Northern California girl who’s totally comfortable with who she is, so improv comes naturally.
We walked to another place where we could find window light. A breeze picked up and the sun went low. As mentioned earlier, I usually avoid lens flare, especially for portraits, but not today. Today we delved into it. It was spontaneous and fun with warm tones, windblown hair and her sister’s favorite hat.
We were free to explore as the pressure was off. Try to let go for a while. Working too hard on photography can completely take the fun out of it.
Most importantly, once you simplify and let go, you may be more open. Feel free to try crazy ideas. Try it and succeed. Try it and fail! Celebrate the wins and learn from the failures. There is growth here.