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How Do You Find Fulfillment in Photography?
Shoot What You Love
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Two weeks ago, I told you about the importance of shooting everything. That when you’re early in your photography journey, you have to make an effort to bring a camera everywhere you can and capture all those in-between moments that catch your eye.
This week, I tell you when you should do the opposite.
This photograph was captured in a small community just outside of Chennai, India a little over three years ago. It was shot on my Fujifilm X-Pro3 and the infamous XF 35mm F1.4. I set the aperture to F4.0, locked the shutter speed to 1/125, and the ISO landed at 640.
What does the best version of a photographer’s journey look like? If I had to boil it down one thing, it’d be the flexibility to wake up and shoot what you love. I believe that fulfillment for a photographer is being able to spend most of your creative days creating or capturing what you absolutely love. But how do you figure out what you love to shoot?
Back in university, I took a childhood physical activity and pedagogy course where the focus was on how we can design optimal athletic programs for children through adolescence. One of the most valuable lessons I took away from this course was the importance of building a foundation of varied sports experiences in child athletes and delaying specialization later into adolescence. For example, instead of just throwing kids into solely into basketball and focusing entirely on that one sport, you’d put them in a wide mix of sports and then focus on basketball in the mid to late teens. Why?
Studies showed that this could benefit athletes by optimizing success, minimizing injuries, and reducing psychological stress. Beyond this, it would give an opportunity for kids to discover what they actually love. So what does this have to do with photography?
Like I mentioned last month, it’s important in our creative journeys to shoot everything we can. To carry a camera everywhere and practice with intention. To push ourselves outside of our comfort zones and practice our photography in genres we may not enjoy as much. By building a wide and varied foundation of experiences, we start to figure out what we like and what we don’t like while developing our eye. And with enough perseverance we may get to that special place where we find out what we love.
In 2020, when I had the chance to visit this community in Tamil Nadu, it become extremely clear the type of photography I love. It’s a mix of street and documentary that shows humans around the world amongst their environment. It’s a moment I’ll never forget because I started to bend the arc of my photography journey around what I now loved. Every job, every project, every opportunity would be examined against how it would allow me to shoot more of what I loved in the long term. And let me tell you, I’ve never been happier as a creative.
Again, if you’re early in your journey, keep experimenting and challenging yourself to shoot everything you can. Bring in a mix of experiences over several years to hone your skills, develop your eye, and learn where you excel. At some point, with enough intentional work, you’ll find out what you truly love. It’s at that point you start to specialize and build your creative journey around shooting what you love. Why? Because if you’re asking me, fulfillment for a photographer is simply being able to wake up and shoot what you love.
Each month, I run a contest for the Church & Street community and try to feature something that I think people will appreciate.
For October, I’ll be giving away a one-year subscription to Capture One Pro. Yes, an entire year of Capture One Pro on me! This is the image editor that I’ve relied on for years and the one I recommend for regular photographers.
How am I picking the winner? All you have to do is be a member of this community and leave a comment on this post. As with every contest, I’ll be randomly picking one person, confirming they meet the requirements and then contacting them directly before announcing the winner publicly.
Once again, this contest is void where prohibited by law. Good luck!
Reader Question: How do you organize all your photos?
This probably deserves its own post but I’ll try my best to summarize it here. I have a 100 Tb QNAP NAS storage that has my work organized by year and dated project (yy-mm-dd “project title”). I’ll also store a second copy on a LaCie Rugged drive that follows the same organization tree (5-6 LaCie drives per year). My most important projects will also be backed up online via Dropbox for a little more peace of mind.
This should answer your question but I’m left a little unsatisfied, haha. I’m gonna table this topic for a future post where I can go into a bit more detail.
After 10 months, I feel like I’m finally hitting my stride with this newsletter and I can’t thank you enough for being a part of the journey. I got some exciting trips over the next few weeks and I can’t wait to share more about them soon. Until then, thanks again for reading. See ya next time!
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