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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Break Free From Your Comfort Zone


Familiarity can hamper creativity. If your photos have been feeling bland lately, it may be time to push yourself into some uncharted territory.



Most people tend to establish what's known as a "comfort zone," which is a limited set of safe, predictable and comfortable behavioral patterns that gives a sense of security and allows one to deliver a steady level of performance. Our comfort zone with photography gets defined early on. From the moment we first pick up a camera, we're indoctrinated with all sorts of rules and conventional wisdom: Always use a tripod, shoot during the golden hours, compose using the Rule of Thirds, never clip your highlights, etc. We also learn the best places and subjects to shoot, and we flock en masse to iconic places made famous by others. Too often, the end result is that we stifle our creativity, letting our fear of taking chances lead us down well-trodden paths.


Freshen up your view by changing perspectives. Move around, get low, go from wide-angle to tele, or vice versa. Tamron 90mm F2.8 Di Macro; Sigma APO 120-300mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM; Tokina AT-X AF DX 10-17mm F3.5-4.5 Fisheye Zoom.
The best photographers know that the comfort zone is the enemy of artistic expression, however. They don't just shoot the same images that have been shot a million times before; instead, they seek new and unique ways of seeing the world. They look for new angles, new perspectives and new subjects in order to stand out from the pack. They're always willing to walk away from the "safe" images and instead swing for the fences with riskier shots.

It's time to break free from your comfort zone, to take some chances with your photography and to start taking the images you've always dreamed of making. Here are just a few practical tips that can help open you to new ideas and perspectives.

Get Off The Beaten Path
There are many places around the world that are the iconic places of nature photography, such as Snake River Overlook in the Grand Tetons made famous by Ansel Adams. There's nothing wrong with shooting icons—they're beautiful places that will continue to inspire all of us for ages to come—but they've been done over and over again, making it hard to find something truly unique and personal. Whenever I can, I like to get off the beaten path and to find places unknown or overlooked by others. When alone in such places, I feel free to explore my personal vision, and I feel that my connection with my subject is more personal and more intense.

Besides, iconic locations don't have a monopoly on beauty. Many less visited places are every bit as beautiful as the icons, some even more so. There are plenty of undiscovered icons out there, waiting for someone to photograph them and bring them to light—so go out there and find your own icons.

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