Practice creating with intent to be a better photographer
Cameras are amazing today. With all their built in tools for exposure, focus and more they end up doing the technical heavy lifting that only a few years ago took years of training to learn. Since modern cameras — especially mirrorless — can live preview things like exposure, focus and color, the amount of time we spend thinking about such things is minimized. Truly the camera has become the paint brush.
If the camera is doing most of the technical heavy lifting what’s left? Creativity. What you create is more important than how you create. No one really cares about the process or how you suffered to make the image. What people care about is the final result. Did you make a beautiful image with your iPhone? Great! Did you do it with a dedicated camera? That’s great too!
With all it’s blessings there comes a curse of modern technology — we’ve become casual in our creating. Look, if your camera is doing the work and what you have left is creativity but you’re creating casually you will slow your creative development. It’s too easy to create casually and when you do you’re not really learning. When you create casually and you get a beautiful image it’s by chance. When you’re creating by chance it’s hard to pinpoint what you did right or wrong so you go about continuing to create casually in hopes to find another happy accident. We all have the occasional happy accident but trying to build a body of work that has a cohesive message will not happen from happy accidents. What you need to be doing with modern technology is to create with intent.
Creating with intent is challenging and it should be. Anything worth doing well is not going to be easy and if dedicating time and mind space to growing as an artist scares you then stop reading here. If you want to become a better artist then you need to be creating with intent, period.
To create with intent you have to make some decisions. What do you want to capture today? Is it bold color or perhaps your intent is to explore the perspective of a new lens. Maybe you’re going to address a fear of asking people at a music festival for their portrait and your intent is to come away with a series of portraits at the end of the day. That’s intent! What kind of photographer do you want to be? Go do it.
Photography is ubiquitous today. Everyone has a good camera but not everyone has vision. The only way to really be different is to be yourself and creating with intent will help you discover who you are photographicly. Don’t think about too much. Allow yourself to suck (it’s OK that you’re not perfect) and go make something. Creating with intent is a powerful exercise that will bring many fears to the surface. If it scares you, do it. You will find that the boogie man in the closet was never real in the first place.