11 months ago, I found myself in a creative rut of sorts. All my portraits, whenever I did decide to shoot them, had the help of some additional light. I also had a go to lighting set up that I would find myself using for most of these portraits which got me questioning whether I had become a one-dimensional portrait photographer. I was bitten by the strobist bug. And it hit me hard. I’m Kip. And I’m a strobist. (Now whoever reads this responds with this: “Hi, Kip.”)
Now on to what came out off that period of, should I say, “self doubt.” I started challenging myself to shoot portraits using JUST ambient light for the next 30 days. The first two people that I shot were officemates that I just happened to be with on those days. The next few days, however, were of people who I did not really talk to and could just as well be called strangers. It was then that I decided to really push myself and start shooting strangers who were in jobs that we would encounter everyday but didn’t really pay any attention to. Every day, I would share a portrait of a person with just their name and their work. I wanted the photos to speak for themselves. At the end of each day, I wanted to put a name and face to these jobs that should definitely be recognised.
Fast forward to today. My portraits have really benefited a lot from that month long exercise. How I light is now significantly cleaner and more controlled for portraits and food alike compared to my photos from a year ago. I have developed a system with how I do things, already being able to better visualise how the photo will look in the frame with the light that I had to work with as well as the light that I was adding through my flashes. So yes, this was a pretty awesome space to be in. I was getting very comfortable with how I work.
On being “comfortable”
Then it got me thinking. How good is comfortable? Comfortable makes me more efficient. I know what to do given the environment. I get a better starting point for my photos with my very first set up. I spend less time trying things that I know won’t work. Comfortable is good. Comfortable is stable.
However, comfortable can be a bit limiting. You know what works and you stick with it. After all (Warning: Incoming cliche), why fix something that isn’t broken? Which brings me on to my main point: Placing yourself outside of your comfort zone can really help you grow in leaps and bounds by really pushing you to not just think outside of the box, but to eventually make your box just a little bit bigger. You get to add a few more guns to your artistic arsenal, whatever craft you might be in.
So what do I do now that I’ve typed all of these little thoughts that have been running around at the back of my head? I noticed that most of the photos that I took came from just one lens. What made the way I work and how I shoot more comfortable was the fact that I knew I what I would see when I look through the viewfinder. I’ve trained my mind to already anticipate how the shot “should” look to the point that changing the lens would be a “last resort.” This had to be challenged.
For the next few weeks, I will be bringing my camera along with me. Most of the photos that I will take will be from my 35mm f/2.8 (Hating myself for the technical description but I really don’t know how else to describe this). Doing this will literally change my perspective of how I shoot. For now, I really don’t have a specific focus on my subjects. Just the thought of shooting with a now unfamiliar lens is actually quite daunting. So much so that I’m just hoping that I don’t mess these photos up. I’ll be sharing them every now and them here at the blog but do check my Instagram feed out though for more regular updates on my mini project. Wish me luck. Cheers!
IG: kipaguirre (http://www.instagram.com/kipaguirre)
P.S. On a final note, happy happy birthday Mother Mary!