Earlier this week, Ben, Hudson Henry and I had a lively discussion about the concept of practice. Over the course of an hour, we talked about many things, including:
- Why people don’t generally think about ‘practice’ as something essential to photographic training (for example, unlike music, which is based around the idea of practicing);
- Learning to practice the art of ‘seeing’;
- Things we can do to get out of a rut;
- The importance of looking at the work of great photographers as part of your photographic practice; and
- How to think about practice as it pertains to your own photography.
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I have been in a photographic funk of late, unable to get into the right frame of mind to shoot. Last week, in the midst of this struggle, I knew that I needed to force myself back into my photography practice. I gave myself an assignment: go out for an afternoon and challenge myself, using one lens at a single focal length.
I use this exercise from time to time, to push me out of my comfort zone and get my mind unstuck. I’m not looking for great photographs; I’m looking to practice the art of seeing. And the great thing about choosing a single focal length — whether using one setting on a zoom or a prime lens — is that it forces me to move around a scene. If I find that I’m receptive to the exercise (it doesn’t always work), it can help me see.
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