No matter your current skill level, you could (and should) always be getting better. And if you ever find yourself in a creative rut—as we all do from time to time—watch this video. Photographer and filmmaker Peter McKinnon thinks he knows why you’re struggling, and how to get out.
McKinnon’s latest video might ruffle some feathers if you just read the title (Why You Aren’t Taking Better Photos) and don’t actually hear him out. But if you do give him 10 minutes of your time, you’ll realize the video is simply about three speed bumps many of us struggle with on our creative journeys.
So if you’re not improving in your photography, and you want to get back on the creative horse, maybe it’s one of these three issues you need to tackle.
1. Social Media Envy
Social media can be a great tool—for building communities, getting your work scene, finding inspiration, and a lot more. But it can also be a major source of envy, frustration, and a big fat creative bummer.
If you want to be a successful photographer, you almost have to be on social media in this day and age, but from time to time, McKinnon suggests taking a break once in a while. A monthly or bi-monthly social media detox, maybe for a week, can work wonders on your creative confidence.
2. Digital Bad Habits
Digital photography opened up incredible creative frontiers, but it also brought with it a slew of bad habits that many (if not most) modern-day photographers suffer from. Even if you, like McKinnon, started your professional career in film photography, you’re not immune… the LCD screen, 14fps shooting, and 250GB memory cards make lazy shooters of us all.
So, on occasion, slow down. That doesn’t mean go back to shooting film, just be aware of and fight the bad habits that digital photography has instilled in you.
Take fewer, more deliberate shots and really think about your composition. Maybe this means putting in a tiny 2GB SD card that makes you wait between shots and only holds 50 or so RAW files (depending on your camera). You don’t have to give up digital, but don’t let it turn you into a lazy photographer.
3. Too Many Options
Finally, the last point McKinnon makes has to do with gear; namely, you probably have too much of it. If you own every lens for every situation and 5 camera bodies to boot, you’re limiting your creativity by giving yourself too many options. In other words: you’ll never have to get creative, because you already have the “perfect” lens or camera for every situation.
One sure-fire way to learn more about the gear you have and spark your creativity at the same time is to limit yourself. Leave most of your gear at home and take just one prime lens out with you. In fact, if you’re just shooting for yourself, take a lens that “shouldn’t” work and try to make it work.
This way, you’ll learn your gear inside and out (one piece at a time) and you might just take a shot that borders on unique.
McKinnon knows this advice isn’t the be all end all. Not all of the issues above will apply to all of the people watching (or reading) this, but McKinnon hopes the video reaches at least a few people who will benefit… regardless of skill level.
And if you liked what he had to say, check out his YouTube channel for even more photography and filmmaking advice. It’s one of our favorites.