I have enjoyed taking photos for most of my life. Prior to taking on a 365 project the only photos I captured were of my family and when I traveled. I had a point and shoot camera and, in later years, my phone. I loved photography but never considered myself a photographer. It was just something I enjoyed doing and I wanted to capture these moments. I bought my first DSLR camera around 2009 and even then I continued to use it in auto mode. I was content with that and was happy with the photos I was taking.
As I neared the end of my career I started thinking about what my retirement would look like. What was I going to do to keep myself busy? I decided that one of the things I wanted to do was to learn photography. I already liked taking photos so it just seemed natural that I would explore this a little more in depth.
I had a goal but I had no idea how to go about it. I had no idea what to take photographs of. I didn't know where to start but I knew I had to start somewhere. Taking photos of family and when I traveled wasn't going to sustain me. I had to step out of my comfort zone in order to move forward. I started exploring the internet to see if I could find some ideas. I read articles about photography and I took a local beginners course. However, I still regularly struggled with deciding what I should photograph. I wanted to learn and practice as I knew this was the only way I would improve but I had no idea what to photograph.
During one of my searches I came across an article about the pros and cons of doing a 365 project. This peaked my interest. I looked into it a little further and stumbled across this 365 photo a day group that has now morphed into this awesome 365 Picture Today group. Like many of you, I learned that if I signed up I would get a daily prompt to help me take a photo a day. This was just what I needed. I'd get direction every day on what to take a photograph of. How perfect was this? Many people are creative to start with and don't struggle with this. I'm not one of those people. I needed to stretch my creative muscles or learn how to be creative. It doesn't come naturally to me.
I went into the 365 project with gusto. I told myself I would try new things whenever I could. Whenever a prompt came up that talked about a specific technique I would google that technique and learn what I could about it and then I would try it. I would look at all sorts of photos. It was intimidating as I was nowhere at the level of those whose photos I was looking at. But, I realized the only way I was going to learn the technique was to give it a try. What did I have to lose? I remember the first technique that came up in a prompt was high key. I had never even heard the term before. I gave it a go and tried it. Although my first attempts left a lot to be desired, I learned so much. I posted the photo in the group and I was surprised with the comments I got. Everyone was very encouraging and were more than willing to provide me advice on how to improve the technique. I realized it wasn't perfect but I did it and I learned from it. That gave me the confidence to keep on trying new things.
One of the hardest things to learn is to not compare yourself to others. There will always be someone more experienced and creative than me. It can be intimidating to share your work in a group where there is a lot of experienced photographers but I have learned that most folks are willing to help with any questions I had and provided advice when needed. We all start somewhere. I had to get over myself, step out of my shell and just do it. I wanted to learn more techniques and improve. This was my journey and as long as I see improvement that's all that mattered.
There are so many different techniques in photography. Many photographers will focus on one specific type of photography and will work at perfecting that. For me, I wanted to learn a little bit about everything and not focus on one specific area. I consider myself a Jill of all trades and mistress of none! Along with high key I learned about macro photography, slow shutter speed, fast shutter speed, water drops, refraction, composition techniques and many more during my first year with 365. A lot of learning and asking questions was needed to even just become familiar with the specific techniques. Thank goodness I had found a group that welcomed that.
As we move forward in this photography journey I challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and not be afraid to try new things. Some you will enjoy more than others and there may be some you don't like at all and that's okay. I guarantee you'll learn something just by trying. You can't move forward if you stand in the same place. Embrace the fear, we're all here to support you. We'll provide a safe place for you to show off your attempts at something new, just try. Believe me, we've all been there.
I continue to be open to new experiences and I'm always willing to learn. I hope I always maintain this curious nature. One of the tasks of being on the creative team is to write monthly blogs. This intimidates me to no end. I'm not much of a writer. However, I had to take my own advice and just give it a go. I'll learn as I go and I know I'll get some great feedback from all of you who read this. I figured since I had to step out of my comfort zone once again to write this blog, I'd make it the topic.
I hope some of you will join me this month and try something new. Take a step out of your comfort zone. It's not really all that scary. Promise!
"Comfort is your biggest trap and coming out of comfort zone your biggest challenge" - Manoj Arora