I am often asked what I have learnt over the last 20 years of being a photographer. I've learnt that there are many types of photographers - good and bad, happy or frustrated, technical and non-technical, people or still life, rich ones and poor ones. But we all have one thing in common - we're all creative. The main thing is that creative people tend to be up one minute and down the next, and learning to deal with this behaviour is the key to being successful and happy as a creative person.
Step 1 – Learn to trust your intuition
Creativity is all about feeling - learn to do what feels right for YOU. If it feels wrong, then it probably is wrong - have the confidence to change what you're doing when you feel it's not working. If you are really struggling to take a picture of a child against a certain background, then you are struggling for a reason - usually because it is never going to work - so don't pursue it. Just say 'this isn't working, I need to change it" and move the child somewhere else; change their clothes, find a different toy, look for different light, and suddenly you'll find you get inspired and taking the photo becomes easy.
If it's difficult - then it's probably not the right way to do it. Photography should be easy - don't make it hard for yourself. If you feel uncomfortable using flash, or different f stops and settings, don't feel you have to use them - adapt ways to work with what you feel comfortable with, until such time as you gain the confidence to learn new things. Photographing people is about the people, not the equipment.
If you're not sure what you're doing, don't worry - just hype it up and pretend you do! Years ago I was asked to do some food photography for a hotel manager who liked my wedding pictures. At the time I was purely a people photographer, and not really into still life so hadn't a clue how to do it. So I experimented in a cafe with a digital camera (when they first came out) and was amazed how easy it was. At the time I used a Hasselblad film camera, and if I'd taken a small digital 35mm into the restaurant, I would have lost all credibility as the great food photographer he assumed I was - so I set up my big Hasselblad on a tripod, with no film in, and whenever the manager was in the room I messed about with the big camera and made it look as if I was shooting everything on that. As soon as he left the room, I quickly took the shots on the simple digital camera and he never knew, because I hyped it up!
So... If you feel uncomfortable at times, this is your creative brain telling you to change what you're doing. Learn to recognise this and move on. Accept that it doesn't work and try it a different way - you'll be amazed at how much easier the shoot will become.
For a truly life changing way of thinking creatively - look at Annabel Williams' latest books - "99 Portrait Photo Ideas" or "99 Digital Photo Art Ideas" available from Annabel Williams
Next month: Step 2 – Get rid of negative people.
Take a look at the previous steps: