Embracing Your Photographic Journey
I've been thinking about my photography quite a bit lately. It seems like, every 6 months to a year, I start to get bored with the way that I'm shooting. That's when I know it's time to push to the next level. And honestly, that's what I love about it. There isn't any final resting place. There isn't anywhere to arrive to, because as your skills, style, and experiences evolve, so do the pictures you take.
Overtime you look to get different things out of what you're creating. When I was 16 I just wanted to walk a way with a photograph that had correct exposure and a blurry background. This was back in the days of film, so, that wasn't the easiest thing to do as a teenager on a budget.
Eventually, I sold my film camera (oops, never sell a camera you love). I shot point-and-shoot digital cameras for the better part of 7 years because I wanted to shoot digital, but couldn't afford anything higher-end. Those years yielded a lot of valuable learning experiences though. Without bokeh, I was forced to focus intensely on composition; I couldn't depend on a narrow depth of field to simplify or dramatize my images.
Eventually I got older, aged out of my twenties, and away from the years of being completely broke. Simultaneously, DSLRs and mirrorless interchangeable lens systems dropped dramatically in price. I bought my first DSLR in 2015. This opened up a different journey, one in which my focus moved to technical competence. I wanted images that were high resolution, well composed, and sharp.
A few more years passed, and I felt as though I had achieved some basic technical abilities with an advanced camera. Once again, boredom struck and I realized I needed to push the boundaries again. "Why don't I like any of the photographs I'm taking?", was a question I had to revisit a few times.
That's when I discovered telephoto landscape work. I loved the simplicity and reduction made possible by using long lenses in wide open places. And for another year, that was enough.
Then, just a few months ago, it happened again. I was bored. Not with the camera or the process, but with my results. So, I again looked for the next level, the place that would force me to grow as a photographer.
I'd been thinking for a while that my photographs just didn't have strong enough subjects. I appreciate a mountain or tree, but I wanted more. I've long admired adventure and travel photographers like Aaron Brimhall and Alex Strohl, but always shied away from that sort of thing, feeling as though I didn't have a lifestyle that would support the production of those kind of images. I spent some time traveling, motorcycling, climbing and adventuring in my twenties, but at some point I gave up on those activities for stability.
That's when I realized what I was missing.
I wasn't even shooting (or doing) some of the things I most enjoy in life: motorcycles, adventure, seeing other parts of the world.
No wonder I was bored.
My work had focused almost exclusively on landscapes due to my enjoyment of the outdoors, but I realize now that I need to return to doing more of the things that inspire me. The things that force me to grow. And, I need to take my camera with me.