Photographing Through the Cypress by Jay Goodrich

Photographing Through the Cypress © Jay Goodrich

With the announcement of our new website last week, I discussed changing directions. About taking your current status quo and trying to explore new avenues with your photography. Wonderful, right? There is a catch here though, and that is becoming open to the change. You can decide to go for it, decide you can make images in another discipline, but the bottom line is, regardless of your decision, you are going to need to become much more aware of your current surroundings in order to achieve it. And in reality, it’s not even about awareness, but a conscious effort or training even.

Anyone can post the sign “Professional Photographer” at their front door. There is no test that has to be passed. You do not need to go to school for any kind of degree. Hell, you don’t even need to have a closet full of equipment. The reality though, is that you wouldn’t get very far, because in today’s society, people only want to work with people who can prove their experience. In another thought too, you wouldn’t even know how to take a picture if you were that far removed from your title. I am assuming that we can agree that it is not a lack of experience here, at least for what you currently focus on, no it is about stepping into different waters.

You have experience and knowledge, you just don’t have experience and knowledge in the subject you are about to immerse yourself into. So what will it take to get that experience? It will take time and it will take training. This training doesn’t need to be formal though, it can be experience driven. You can take the knowledge you already have and build upon it. Photograph and study, then adjust, then photograph some more. Eventually you will have the experience. It is in that experience then that you will have the consciousness to achieve. Why? Because once you have enough experiences, your brain transforms. It begins to talk to you instead of you talking to it.

When this little switch occurs, you notice things that you may not have noticed before. All of a sudden your level of seeing escalates beyond were you were an hour ago, a day ago, or even a year ago. It is at this point that you realize that heading out into any photographic situation with a preconceived idea is almost ludicrous. Unless of course you have planned and sketched the whole image out, and you are building the concept from the ground up. This holds true for much of the commercial photography out there.

The shot I have included in this post is the proof of this building block scenario. I changed directions for my new website. This took me out of my comfort zone and had me photographing things that I barely touched upon before. The trial and inexperience period happened fast only because I already had the building blocks of creativity laid prior with an architecture degree and fifteen years of photographing. None the less, it was hard to take an image with a person in it, that wasn’t doing something visually exciting – mountain biking, skiing, etc. Fast forward six months – my eyes, brain, and motor skills are teed up in search of these scenarios now. So when I was photographing an abstract of some trees along the coast of California during a workshop last week, my mind was on the lookout.

When one of our participants walked into my composition, I pounced. I shot something that I would have never seen a year prior because my brain would not have possessed the training to look. I would have probably asked her to move out of the scene. And the beauty of the whole situation is that none of the other people standing next to me realized I took the image, until they saw it at the end of the workshop. Go ahead and change directions, but make sure that when you do, you become open to as many situations in your surroundings that your brain will allow you to go after. Your image making skills will definitely show for it.