Never lose your creative spark!
Nature, our world, this moment--we have all the "equipment" we need to capture unparalleled beauty, whatever else we use to shoot.
It's easy to lose ourselves in the excitement of the next lens and camera body and piece of post-processing software we want. I'm just as much of a technology geek as the next photog.
I work hard every chance I get to learn and practice and grow my skills.
But don't forget the art, the experience, the message that each moment of inspiration is passing to you, through you, and on to those who view your images.
"Real" doesn't mean boring or amaturish.
Some of the most artistic and surprising images I've captured have been created with the simplest to use and least sophisticated equipment I own. Like the "nature abstract" I included in this post.
Actually, I call captures like this my "water colors." I thirst for more and more of them, always on the lookout whenever I shoot near water.
Cotton Candy Sunset came to me when all I knew how to use was my point-and-shoot Nikon Coolpix.
I'd learned to set it on a "sunset" program that picked up the blue hour at the end of the day, allowing me to for the first time "paint" what it felt like to watch pink light slip into lavender, blessing the end of a long, hot summer's day with the night's gentle breeze. In order too capture the tree line you see low in the shot, I think I had to shoot about 100 frames on that crazy, color washed night. These days, I'd likely only need 1 or 2.
But I had to get the image. I had to see that moment again. I had to show it to my husband, so he'd believe how incredibly beautiful it was and want to come back on another night to experience it for himself.
And somewhere along the way, beginning with this moment, I've become known for the water reflections I capture, often when few others would think to hang out past sunset to something this ethereal and almost-not-there happen.
I didn't have many pixels to work with and no real processing skills yet.
Those layers of almost illustrated color are pretty much straight out of the camera. And they still mesmerize me to this day. A canvas print (one of the first I every paid to create) still hangs across from my desk as I write and dream up story each day.
Yeah, the image could be brighter and perhaps framed with a vignette. And you can create something similar with Topaz or Nik filters. But this is what I saw and felt that late evening, and I wouldn't trade the rawness of that image memory for the world.
There's peace waiting for me in this capture. What a perfect moment! I can't help but smile.
And I've been at this long enough to know the gratitude of many others over the years enjoying the same image--some even wanting a copy of their own. In fact, this was the very first print I sold, at a writer's workshop where I was teaching craft and happened to bring along a book of prints to show people at the book signing on the last night of the weekend retreat.
One student was so in love with what I'd seen walking around that lake on a sunset night, I offered to give her the print.
"Oh, no!" she gasped. "I insist you let me pay for it." So a $5 bill exchanged hands (the price of one of my mass market paperbacks), and my dreams of reaching even more viewers through my images began.
As I mentioned, I'm a writing craft instructor, an author coach, and a developmental editor, as well as a novelist 27 books over. I'm a firm believer in studying and practicing and growing your craft. I've applied the discipline of my publishing career to my photography goals over and over.
I truly believe that nothing can escalate your ability to impact someone's experience of your work faster than knowing, technically, how to effortlessly relay what you're trying to say to someone who only has their own experience and perspective as a reference.
Words, photographs, it's all story. And the better we become at storytelling, the more lives our work can touch and transform.
So work hard. Never stop working.
But never forget that spark, that creativity, that inspiration that first tempted you to save an image.
Hold onto the awe of being in the moment, one with whatever you're grinning at like a loon because it's so amazing you'll stand there all night, for 100 frames or more, working with everything you have to bring a good image to life.
I'll never forget this first moment, when I with my CoolPix, handheld and not really sure what I was doing, began to "create" something no one else was around to see.
Keep it real, my friends, whatever and wherever you shoot!
And always, always, share what you love most with a world thirsting for your beauty and creativity and love of live.