Three Ways You Can Refine Your Photography Workflow
I’m a firm believer that the best way to grow as a photographer is through refinement. Regardless of how strongly you believe that a new camera or plug-in is your ticket to success, the truth, is that creating with direction, focus and a well thought out workflow will have the largest impact on your images.
They say that practice makes perfect. Well, in my eyes, there really is never a perfect. I like to view practice as refinement. Every time I’m out creating, I’m refining.
I look at refinement as a way of narrowing down the immense amount of options that are available at every location, and gaining a better understanding of what really moves you as a photographer.
With that being said, there are definitely specific approaches you can take while out creating to help ensure maximum growth and understanding with your photography. In this article I’ve listed three ways you can refine your approach to photography that will help you create more meaningful images and grow your creative vision.
One: Avoid The Obvious
The obvious is tempting. It’s the subjects and compositions that people have created time and time again at the “famous” locations. The obvious does not influence personal creativity.
Now, I do want to mention that I have nothing wrong with people wanting to visit classic locations and capture famous view points. It’s up to you what you choose to shoot. But I do want to stress the point that simply trying to re-create what has already been made countless times before will not help you develop your creative vision at a high level. It can be a good learning tool when you’re still trying to figure out specific details of your craft, mainly technical, but it doesn’t force you to discover and embrace the endless possibilities that every location provides.
If your photography pursuits consist mainly of trying to capture the “classics”, then you’re probably starving your internal creative hunger.
Explore Your Options
Images are hard to create. It’s as simple as that. Every location starts out as a cluttered mess until you take the time to explore it and unearth a subject and accompanying dynamic elements. I believe that people are attracted to the obvious because everything is right there waiting for them. If you don’t take the time to explore the landscape in depth, you’ll never refine your eye and gain a better understanding of the intricacies of light, shadow, texture and composition.
I’ve often heard people say things like “I’m not a creative person”. I don’t buy that. I think that if anyone takes the time to truly explore an area, they’ll be rewarded with the same gifts that others receive.
Two: Shoot Less
In my opinion, creating less images at a location will net better results then if you go for the quantity vs quality approach.
We’ve all been there before, mainly in our photography infancy. We visit a location and move from image to image in a matter of seconds, never truly taking the time to explore the possibilities and think about the decisions we’re making. After the shoot we head home with the daunting task ahead of having to “sort through all of our images to find the good ones”
You Should Already Know What Worked And What Didn’t
Having to find your “good” images amongst a sea of others on your memory card basically just confirms that you have no idea if any worked, you’re just hoping that there will be a couple in there. Which makes sense, if you’re a beginner.
This is something that everyone goes through, and isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it lasts for a short period of time. When you first start out, it’s important to take the time to sift through your images and study them to find out what worked and why. But, at some point you need to commit to creating less volume and really focus on trusting your instincts and interests.
There’s Nothing Wrong With Creating Just One!
I often tell people to head out with the intention of creating one image. Now, that doesn’t always have to be the case, it’s more of a mindset of having a goal of creating an image that has been well thought out and executed to the highest degree before moving on to the next.
Spending more time on one image will force you to think about all of the decisions you’re going to make, and in return, will help you develop your creative vision. I like to refer to this as “visualization”, which we’ll dive in to deeper in the next point.
Visualization is the perfect example of refinement, as it forces you to breakdown your images to their raw components. Most images that lack impact suffer from an absence of direction. Most of the time, these types of images will feel cluttered, incomplete or lack any sort of subject or dynamic element.
Visualization is the act of taking the time to explore all of the creative options you have with your image. It’s about visualizing elements and their impact before they’ve happened. Some examples include:
- What will the light look like at its optimal time? What direction will have the most impact? What type will suit your story?
- How will movement affect elements in the frame? Water, clouds, trees?
- What colour cast do you want to include in your final image? How will that help create your intended mood?
- Are the conditions the best to create your image right now? Would different weather be more suitable for your subject?
- What creative options are available to help create the strongest intended mood in your image?
The list is endless.
These questions matter, because without them you’ll almost certainly end up with an image that’s lacking specific features needed for maximum impact. The point, is that it helps to be able to visualize elements in your mind and decide which ones you want to use, instead of relying on just getting “lucky” when the events unfold.
Throughout your career, it’s important to always be moving forward and trying to slowly implement small changes or new approaches in hopes of growing as an artist.
I’d love to hear if you have any specific techniques or ways of working that you’ve found benefit you and have helped you refine your photography workflow.
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