In my explorations in photography, I have been known to get into a rut, where I just don’t feel that I’m very creative or inspired. If you’ve ever encountered this feeling, I expect that you can relate. If it’s just a couple of days, it’s no big deal, but if this drags on for weeks, it bothers me, as I like generating interesting photos.
When I feel uninspired, I will often come up with something a little different in my approach to try and break out of the block. One of these is to put a constraint on my photography; this helps provide focus in what I look to photograph, rather than allowing the entire world to be my proverbial oyster.
For an entire series, I restricted my images to only be square. While this doesn’t sound like much of a constraint, it did help me look at everything a little differently to get compositions that might work in a square format.
And, as you can see, rust is never a bad thing either!
I’ve restricted subjects, as well, or do a series of photos of the ground… And, yes, I’ve even forced myself to do different things with my camera, such as zoom blur, which led to an entire series of abstract images.
What kind of things do you do to break your inspiration free of its bonds?
A Fresh Perspective
Photography is more than just a vehicle for capturing the world around me; it provides me with a palette and a set of brushes, with which I paint not only what I see, but also look to express the emotions that are evoked by the scene in front of me in that moment.
Growing up in the Netherlands exposed me to a wide cross-section of visual arts that laid the foundation of my photographic view of all that surrounds me. Early influences were the Dutch Masters of the 17th century, to whom I was introduced by my grandfather during museum explorations; favorites among them are the scenes of quotidian life depicted by Jan Steen and Frans Hals and the vivid landscapes of Jacob van Ruisdael.
My classical high school education was supplemented by the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum, where I spent many a lunch hour exploring its great collection. Here I was introduced to surrealism with a particular love for the approach taken by Salvador Dali; Dali also rekindled my appreciation for the work of Hieronymus Bosch, who often showed the folly of us mortals.
My approach to any photographic subject is to look for understanding first; in this I look to establish either a connection between the viewer and the subject or capture the connection of the subject with its surroundings. The captured image then aims to portray this connection from a perspective that is part of my personal interpretation.
This interpretation is often a form of externalized introspection, which may alternately display the connection of isolated beings and items with their environment or highlight the whimsy of the profound world, in which we find ourselves. The universe is full of connections, many of which are waiting to be discovered; part of my journey as a photographer is to document these connections.
Any assignment, be it an event, a product shoot or a portrait session is always approached through communication with the client; this is where the first connection is established. Ideas are exchanged and a collaborative plan of action forms, ultimately resulting in a set of images that aim to exceed the expectations of each client.
And, lest we forget, it is important to have fun while practicing the serious business of photography!
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25 thoughts on “Living in a Square World”
Your rusty photos are beautiful, Frank.
Hi Frank, the photography doldrums strike all of us. I often get a kick out of shooting pinhole images in square of wide formats. It’s always interesting to see the unpredictable results.
That’s a really cool approach! Thank you for sharing.
I like this idea. Getting out of one’s comfort zone. I’ve tried to get in closer than I normally would. Or sit on the ground and shoot from below.
Great ideas, as a change of perspective gives a new experience.
I love the way you’ve captured the light in the second image especially Frank and it’s interesting to see what you do to try something new. Even though I’ve never experienced a ‘rut’, I like to challenge myself from time to time and try new angles, shutter speeds or apertures. I’ve got a lovely book called ‘The Photographer’s Playbook’ with a selection of 307 assignments to dip in an out of – if you’ve not come across it you may enjoy some of the challenges in there too.
Thank you, Xenia! I actually have a copy of the book and go to it from time to time for some ideas. It’s a great resource.
The rust color and texture are so beautiful, Frank. I sometimes forget to look down, as I tend to focus on the sky and other landscape features. I need to remember to do so.
Thank you, Sandy!
Rust makes an excellent color. The second shot, the wheel, if it’s black and white can be stunning and reminds me of Thomas Merton’s photography.
Thank you for good ideas! Sometimes I get really tired of myself, and then I try other angles, motifs or post processing. Love your rusty, square pictures – inspirational!
Thank you, Ann-Christine!
Just love to capture rust as well Frank. Great shots. In March it will be time for Becky’s Square Challenge which I think you will enjoy. Have a look at what the challenge is all about.
Fantastic post, Brian! I may just check out that challenge!
Do it. Beckys Square challenges are addictive, you’ll enjoy being involved Frank. I do a fair bit of post scheduling
I really hate to crop at all, maybe a little straightening if needed. But my blog theme displays images at less than the actual size, that’s why I started shooting vertically. I know I can link to a larger image but its seems like a pain. So I’ve begun cropping in Lightroom both square and in different aspect ratios. Its surprising how much room to play there is with files that are 6000×4000.
Great shots-I love old rusty things.
Thank you for sharing that experience, Mike. It sounds like your experiments have been very successful.
Great ideas that can also be used for those of us who write as our medium. The rusty bucket tells a story all by itself. Mind if I borrow it – using you as the inspiration of course.
I don’t mind at all. Sharing ideas is what the blogosphere is all about.
The curves in the shots are a perfect complement to the square shape. When I am not taking photos, I love to go into Lightroom and “play” with them.
Thank you, Marie. Experimenting with Lightroom is always fun.