Keeping in touch with your work

 

 Not yet being a full-time professional photographer there are moments where I have other obligations, which keep me from being behind the lens. Everybody has ’em, these moments where you’re stuck doing something else that must be done, or are in a situation where you simply can’t spend the time shooting.

These moments away from photography are quite annoying to me, and therefore I try to squeeze in a lil’ something related to photography each day, to keep in touch with your art. I think it’s extremely important never to fully disconnect from your work. Don’t get me wrong, it can be immensely positive to put down the camera once in a while, take a step back from what you’ve been shooting and reasses whether it’s really what you wanted, and if you need to redirect yourself, to do so at once.

However, there are a few things I like to do whenever I know I won’t be shooting for a quite some time to keep in touch. You’ll find that these things I list are great for other things as well, and don’t have to be done only when you can’t be shooting.

1. Explore portfolio’s. What I do whenever I need to fuel the inspirational gastank is to browse through portfolio’s. How? It’s very simple : just open up Google or the likes, and then type X photographer. X being the type,domain of speciality you wish to explore, so if your speciality is fashion, just go ahead and type ‘fashion photographer’.

The chances are you’ll find thousands of sites and links corresponding to your search query, and the chances are even bigger that you’ll be disappointed by what you find. But fear not. Every once in a while you’ll stumble upon that rare gem, that diamond in the rough-portfolio that you’ll adore. Now browse through it, admire, contemplate, criticize, envy. I have made it my ‘mission’ if you wish to find one great portfolio each day. Doesn’t matter on which subject. Sometimes it’be sports, other times fashion and so on. I then bookmark them in a ‘dossier’ for future references.

If I ever find an image that really appeals to me, i’ll use some sort of screen snipping tool (Windows Vista has a great little tool like that built right in, Windows Snipping Tool) and take a ‘snipshot’ of it and save it as an image. This brings me immediately to my second point.

Isn’t this stealing? Not at all, everyone does it. It’s not that different from seeing a scene in a film and thinking ‘Wow, that’s a great idea, i could turn and twist this to make a photo!’. Of course I’m not saying to bluntly copy the image, but use it as inspiration.

2. Build a LookBook.
A what now? Well, I don’t know if it’s the official term for it , but that’s the way i call it. Essentially it’s just a book in which I ad pictures i really like. There’s no clear distinction between them, you can arrange them as you wish but i prefer not to . I just mix everything together, sports, ads, fashion, nature, everything together in one big stew.

I referred to this earlier with the snipping tool. Everytime I see a picture that I find fantastic for some or other reason i snip it, print it and stick it in my lookbook. This lookbook will become your bible. Every shoot you go on, every trip you take you should have it with you .It’ll be an immense source of inspiration for you, and it might save your life once if you find yourself on a shoot with an empty creative tank.

Why do you mix all kinds of photos together? Well, it’s been my experience you can get incredible ideas by mixing certain types of photos. It usually works best with 2 styles that don’t go together at all. You’ll have created intersting, uncommon photos that’ll really make you stand out as a photographer.

3. Do the jobs you’ve been putting off.
For me, it’s accounting. Although I like have a clean, tightly run accounting (which is an absolute necessity if you want to come over as ‘pro’ towards your clients.) I never seem to get on with doing it. Well, if you have a dead moment, just do it. Sure, it’s not as fun as editing or shooting, but it’s a necesary evil. You’ll thank yourself later if you ever have a problem with a client, or just need to present some form of track record of your work. I recommend using BlinkBid to keep an overview of your clients, your shoots, and monetary situations. If you haven’t got a buck to spare for that software, I recommend using Bamboo Invoicing software. It’s freeware, and sits on your server so that you’ll be able to access it all over the world. This is incredible for a piece of free software. You’ll be able to talk it over with your clients on the spot, wherever your are.

4. Check up on a technique you’ve been wanting to master
The internet is full of über-detailed guides to almost every single aspect of photography. Always wanted to learn how to create beautiful landscapes with long exposures? Want to master time-lapse photography? Browse the net for guides, how-to video’s, etc… Really immerge yourself in a subject, and learn every aspect of it so you’ll know exactly what to do when you’ll apply it. A site where I spend a huge amount of time is KelbyTraining. It’s a cavern filled with how-to video’s on a hugely different amount of categories. I even believe they’ve got a month-free trial period.

5. Work out an entire shoot/idea in your head.
Sitting behind my desk working away on something ‘irrelevant’  I usually work out idea’s for shoots. I recently came up with a crime-themed shoot, worked out the lighting scheme and checking techniques on the net for making certain shots happen. It can be everywhere on everything. I also worked some schemes out on napkins in restaurants. Anything works.

Well, there are a lot of things related to photography you can do while ‘not doing’ photography.

It’s all about staying connected to your creative side, and exploring every facet of it without even doing it.

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