When you first start out with photography, it's important to spend a few years experimenting, making mistakes and discoveries, and gaining visual dexterity. As you've probably seen, it takes some years before camera controls and perspectives can be internalized to the point where you can focus purely on the art and craft of image-making. Once the basics are mastered, photographers are able to make technically-sound images but their oeuvre has a fairly random feel, when taken as a whole. Diverging styles, techniques, subject choices - work at this stage is a bit of a visual grab bag.
There's nothing wrong with this artistic phase (it's actually a critically important part of the creative process), though photographers are often eager to move past it. There comes a time when artists develop a drive to find their unique photographic voice - to make images that resonate with a stronger sense of personal vision. There might be a pull to work on a portfolio or long-term personal project. There might be a desire to build a website, mount an exhibition, or enter a competition. This is an exciting transitional time in the creative process - and it can be rich with opportunities for growth.
When you begin to photograph with more intention and focus, you can create images that say something more meaningful about who you are as an artist - and as a person. Instead of making hundreds (or thousands) of "one-off" images, you might begin to see a clear narrative develop in your work. You might turn your camera on a social, cultural, or environmental issue. You might use your photography to explore a particular place or a particular time in your life. You might make an in-depth, ongoing portrait of a loved one or explore a personal passion on a deeper level. Wherever your focus lies, it can be wonderfully gratifying to immerse yourself in your creative process and take these next steps with your work.
Oftentimes, photographers start to consider these issues and realize that the seeds of a unique personal vision are already apparent in their work. You might realize you've been photographing a particular subject (or working in a particular style) for some time. These little seeds of personal vision are treasures, and if they're thoughtfully cultivated, they can grow into powerful bodies of work.
If you're interested in taking a deep look at how these issues affect your creative process, I'd love you to join me in my upcoming online course, The Visionary Portfolio. The e-course includes lively discussions, personal guidance, and weekly photography projects designed to help photographers build momentum and confidence. I absolutely love teaching this course and seeing students take meaningful new steps with their photography practice.
Questions? Want to learn more? Click on the class link to read all the fun details and see student feedback. Or, pop me an email if you have questions. Class begins on July 22nd and registration is now open.