Imagine for a moment that you are a photographer who only photographs mechanic gadgets for a manufacturers catalogues. Day in and day out. That's what you do.
You get pretty good at it over the years. You are quick and efficient. The boss loves you and you earn a decent dollar for your efforts.
A number of years go by and you continue shooting the exact same images, over and over. This is a factory mentality where by you are the machine churning out copy after copy of highly repeatable product for a receptive hierarchy of managers and business executives. They know what your work looks like, but they probably have no clue what your name is.
If you were in such a position would you not have the desire to expand your experience beyond that of the factory floor? To get out into the world and stretch your creative body, test your limits, grow and expand? What's holding you back?
This is the driving force behind my two personal projects currently on the go. I started one a couple of years ago and have since put it on hold. It involves me visiting the workshops of Ontario based musical instrument makers. These people have some serious skills. Most of them are full-time builders of instruments. A few are working a full-time job while making instruments on the side. I hold these men and women in high regard. They've each welcomed me into their homes and shops for 40 to 120 minutes while I pick the best angle, fiddle with lights and make them look amazing to the viewer.
The other project is ongoing and coming to a local gallery this summer. This one involves the photographing of artists local to Peterborough city and county. The plan was to do 40 portraits. About half way through, people started emailing me to see about being included. Hey, that's pretty cool. How could I say no? Meeting these artists was a big step for me. I'm not really one to put up my hand and offer my thoughts in public. I guess it's my introverted nature. But I'm growing through that in tiny increments.
These projects have driven me to expand beyond my own fears and hesitations. I've learned more about myself in the process of working these projects that at any other time in my adult life. Each project is a challenge to organize, schedule and execute. They both have developed further than my original mock-ups. Each project has produced a few gems that I'm very happy with. I've increased my skill and built on my personal style of shooting. I've refined my approach to doing portraits, especially since each was done in and entirely new space. Sometimes 3 in a day.
It's giving me the incentive to go in a direction that I would have been hesitant to look at just 10 years ago. When the show goes live in July/August, I will get even more impactful feedback that I hope will guide me in my creative direction. This feedback from the public, I will probably take with a grain of salt. I don't expect anything revolutionary, unless I am eavesdropping. Getting an honest opinion might be difficulty I will have to find a workaround for.
My point is that you need to get involved in personal projects as a way to keep your wits and expand your creative abilities. It doesn't have to be a huge one or an expensive venture. All you have to do is start.
Photo-Artist working a personal vision.