One of the best things you can do as a photographer today is ask questions instead of seek more answers. We’re surrounded by answers because there is an extremely high demand for them. There is no shortage of information and advice from experts, magazines, videos, blogs, books, and whoever else claims to have what you need.
But often these answers do not lead to more creativity, they lead to formulas and patterns, to more gear, to repetitive results, to a circular path that can lead to less motivation and/or burnout.
We hide behind the technology because it’s easier to talk about cameras than composition. It’s easier to apply a preset or buy a “new and improved” plugin than to start over in the field. It’s easier to learn how to make our images look like an Ansel Adams than to learn how to make them look like ours.
It’s easier to agree with the majority or the authority than it is to commit to your personal vision.
- What’s the best lens for landscape photography?
- What’s the best editing software?
- What filers do you use?
- What’s the best paper for printing black and white images?
- Where do I go next?
- How do I sell my images?
Many ask these questions because they think the answers are important. But often the opposite is true, and they create even more questions that need more answers. Some alternate questions to consider are:
- How can I capture what inspires me?
- When will I master the software so that it serves my vision, not the other way around?
- What filters do I need for the image I want to make?
- What paper best conveys what I want to express? Have I captured something expressive?
- Can I stop judging, and start “seeing?”
(A mountain is always the same mountain if that is what you photograph, but if you photograph what you feel, that’s always interesting no matter how many times you visit the same location.)
- How do I make my images more authentic? That’s not the same as original—it means you’re not afraid to be you.
- What am I truly capable of?
I like answers just like anyone else. But the questions with really hard answers or no answers at all are what make me get up every day and try things that may not work.
Ask yourself the really difficult questions and you may be surprised at how your work improves.