Kick your bad picture-taking habits

Change is good.

By analyzing the photo conventions and biases—both personal and cultural—that influence your photography, you will be able to expand your creativity and refresh the joy of taking pictures.

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Here's a simple way to expand your photography. Photograph at different times and locations than you normally do. We all fall into habits. One habit we should try to develop is the habit of forcing ourselves to do things differently.

Because nothing inhibits creativity more than becoming a slave to habits, it's important for us to become aware of our habits and conventions and to sometimes vary them. As a slave to habits, you end up in a rut taking pictures of the same things in the same way and eventually become bored and wonder why photography has lost its luster.

Make some changes

What are your habits and conventions when it comes to where and when you photograph? You can mentally tick off the answers but you might do better to write them down. After you record your current habits, write down some possible alternatives.

For example, if you like to make well-composed, midday portraits of well-groomed people, maybe you should try a series of early morning, waking up portraits. You'll get grumpy expressions, wrinkled jammies, rumpled hair, and sleepy eyes. More importantly you'll get a fresh look to your portraits (and unfortunately a few angry people. Okay, maybe you should wait until after lunch.

In the small Peruvian village of Pisac, market vendors set up at dawn and pack up in the dark when this shot was taken.

If you're a fair weather, beautiful scenery photographer, how about changing your shooting habits to include a neighborhood street at twilight or during a snowfall?

Instead of seeking a perfect tiger lily or daisy, find one that's the essence of frumpy and frazzled, because isn't that how many of them are in nature?

By expanding your photography and challenging your conventions you'll come to see new possibilities even when you return to your old habits.


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