We all want to improve our photography and create those great images seen the travel and natural history books and magazines. Yet, one of the things we lack in getting there is discipline. No hobby or career is ever achieved through laziness. Practice makes perfect. If you aren’t shooting enough images, the chances of great images diminish. Here’s how you can become more disciplined.
Discipline is a state of mind-based in habits. We are all 100 percent disciplined all of the time. The question is, what are we disciplined in? The answer is good and bad habits. This applies to photography, as well. What you need to start doing is disciplining your self to shoot regular images. It is the only way to truly learn photography. So what steps can you take? Shoot one image a day every day for 365 days. And the time and place to start is now. How do you do it?
1. Shoot a random image
You can get up in the morning, pick up your camera, and just shoot anything without any planning, reason, or creative idea. This will just discipline you to do it. It is often good for just getting you into the habit. The quality of the images won’t necessarily be great, but you will have one image per day and get into the routine of photography.
2. Select a theme
This makes the task more interesting, and you can actually start enjoying the moment. Choose something that is interesting to start off with, such as a color or a letter from the alphabet. Something that is easy and you don’t have to think too much about. Keep to this theme for a week or a month. Maybe you can select 52 themes or twelve themes. If you really want to stretch your creativity to the limits, stick with a theme for the whole year. It is up to you to decide. Whatever gets you shooting is working for you.
3. Shoot a concept
Again, how you do it is up to you. You can select an idea like love and shoot it for a week, which is similar to using a theme. Every day find something that looks like, symbolizes, or reminds you of the word love. It could be something in a heart shape or perhaps the color red. Whatever it is, it must do something for you and keep you taking photos. You will be amazed at what you can actually come up with.
4. Choose a fixed location
Why not find an interesting location—whether at home or nearby—and only shoot from there. Choose somewhere at home or very near to home, because if the task is too difficult you’ll give up easily. Maybe shoot from a specific balcony or a window. But remember, there must be variety otherwise the task can become onerous.
5. 365 shot challenge
I left this one until last because it becomes really difficult. Find a subject or an object that is fairly complex. Complex because you are going shoot it 365 times over the course of a year. If it sounds difficult, that’s because it is difficult. It will push you to the limits of your creativity and is definitely not for the faint of heart. As long as every photo is different you’ve achieved your goal. What this will do is extract every last drop of your creative juice. It’s no use choosing an apple or a kitchen fork because there are limits to how many angles you can shoot. Try it out, and if it doesn’t work then stop and continue with another theme or concept.
What this whole exercise does over the space of a year is to get you shooting a series of tasks in a disciplined way, thereby helping you learn digital photography. If you are able to keep this up for 30 days then your brain is starting to create habit pathways that after a few months will be as entrenched in your life as a bad habit. You’ll find yourself looking forward to your daily photo and probably doing more than you have to. If it gets to this point then you can probably shoot a number of images and choose the best one to go into your daily album.
About the Author:
Wayne Turner has been teaching photography for 25 years. Passionate about photography, radio and video, he is a Radio CCFm producer and presenter in Cape Town.
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