A lot of rapid progress can come in your photography when you integrate it with the other things you do in life.
Photography can seem to be a very distinct activity in our lives. We shoot on social occasions, vacation, and on deliberate photo trips (such as my long trips into the country to shoot landscapes) or for work as a portrait or event photographer. But it is rare to find someone who only has one thing as their entire life focus or as their only ability.
Many of us have hobbies in other areas than photography. We may be into model trains, wargaming, historical recreation, quilting, sewing, gardening, cooking, cars, spiritual practices, social work, model making or whatever.
Any other activity we are involved in, either for hobby or work, can not only provide subject matter for our photography but may also bring talents that can be applied in our photography. Let’s have a look at some people doing just this.
David Leventhal has moved from shooting toy soldiers, cowboy and Indian figurines, religious statues and sports models to adult toys. Using shallow depth of field and a large-format Polaroid camera, he creates dioramas that explore American culture. The result is a strong body of work that has achieved great success.
David Lambert mixes a passion for the landscape and environmental concerns with an ability to create model landscapes in a series of works with a strong conceptual basis and great visuals.
Edward Weston’s Pepper image from 1930 should inspire any photographer with an interest in cooking or vegetable gardening to start shooting some of their vegetables before, while, or after they are in the pot.
Anyone who has burned a lot of incense will have seen the amazing patterns the smoke makes in the air. Why not try photographing this, as Mehmet Ozgur did.
I hope you are starting to get the idea. No matter what your other interests, professional or hobby, you can apply them to photography.
If you are a passionate computer game player, set up the camera pointing at the screen, set a long exposure, and capture the movement as dynamic blurs.
A skateboarder could tape on a suitable camera to their board, set to take a picture every five seconds and shoot while in action. Similarly an amateur rally driver or off-roader could affix a camera securely to the car and capture action shots.
Someone with great people-handling skills, such as a psychologist or sales person, could persuade people to pose in unusual ways or in challenging situations.
A lab technician or scientist could take great images of equipment setups in the lab.
A mother could choose to document suburban life, do abstract shots in the supermarket, or serve as an event photographer at their kid’s activities.
A student could create great images of other students or abstracts of study materials or even books in the library.
It is when you draw diverse things together that you have the opportunity to make some unique creative choices. While lots of people shoot landscapes, how many shoot model landscapes seriously? There are many who shoot flowers, how many shoot flowers with bugs from their bug collection? While many shoot insect macros, how many do so using the endoscopy equipment that doctors use?
When you combine very different areas you limit your competition, making it more likely for you to get noticed. You also end up seeing images in situations that no one else does, thus sharing your unique vision with the world.
So try combining your interests. Your life will be easier when you can share time on several passions and your work will have a unique quality.