I am a late bloomer. Always have been. It took me quite a bit time for me to arrive at where I’ve come to and it isn’t the end of the journey in any sense. I spent quite a few years drifting around in photography while obtaining a surplus of mediocre photos!
The internet and digital photography have accelerated my development as a street and abstract photographer. It has probably taken me far longer to reach this stage than it should have. What can I say? I didn’t study photography in school and I didn’t have access to different styles of photography. That became possible with the internet as well as the social media communities of photographers with a shared appreciation for the art of photography.
Perhaps the largest piece of wisdom that I can offer to you beyond getting comfortable using your tool and being present when you’re out shooting, is to experiment, to shoot as often as possible and to look at the work of other photographers on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter if they are famous or not. Oh, and do make mistakes. Don’t be afraid of them.
To use the typical example of learning to play guitar, one normally tries to learn to play songs that they like. If they’re passionate enough about it they will try to be able to copy the original to the point of almost being a cover band. In the beginning you have to start somewhere. It is about learning a new language.
I have always said steal from the best and make up the rest. So you see things in photos taken by others that you like. I always see things that I like. The best thing about looking at the work of others is also about seeing what works and what doesn’t. Photography is a truly subjective and personal choice. There isn’t one correct way to do street photography.
Somewhere in the process of it all, I have found myself bored. That is a fairly regular state of mind for me when I do the same thing over and over again. To use another metaphor, if you always cook with the same recipe, you’ll always get the same dish. You’re saying “Leanne that’s pretty obvious.” You’re right. But sometimes stating the obvious is exactly what’s needed to make a change.
At some point in time after repeating the process of shooting, experimenting, not being afraid to make mistakes and viewing the work of other photographers, your own style becomes apparent and you make it your own. You own it. This has been my experience and the other item is sharing your work with people you don’t know who are also photographers. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. That’s my recipe. Try it, you might like it. Happy shooting!