The Visual Advocate Blog

5 ways to improve your photography in 2012

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Recently I read a quote by Mark Twain and immediately fell in love with it, here it is: “Most men die at 72, we just bury them at 27”. Isn’t that true!

However, here is the catch, its not just men, it can be all of us if we don’t make daily choices to tenaciously take hold of life and make choices that help us live life to the fullest.

In light of that I wanted to just briefly share 5 choices you can make as a photographer that will not only improve your quality of life but also improve your craft and ability as a visual storyteller. Here is my list, but I would love to hear what you have to say too!

  1. Slow Down: Recently I met a Somali woman and her family who are living as refugees just 5 minutes from our home. As soon I met them and began to hear parts of their story, my mind began racing with photographic ideas. However, instead of pulling out my camera or throwing ideas at her, my wife and I just listened. Up to this point, I still have not taken any images yet. I want to, but I know that by slowing down and taking the time to develop the relationship, not only will the images be stronger and more profound, but I will also have the joy getting to be part of this amazing woman’s life. So no matter what kind of photography you do, remember to slow down a little and don’t be in such a hurry. If we don’t our images will continue to lack the depth and profoundness we want.

  2. Learn something new: As photographers we must make time to study images, talk to other photographers, get training and learn more about our craft in other ways; if we don’t we soon grow stagnate creatively and professionally. None of us ever arrive, we all have ways we can grow as people and artists so if we are really going to move forward as visual artists we must put in the hard work to be learners.

  3. Walk toward your fears: Too many of us just exist instead of really live because we are afraid of failure, looking stupid, not knowing how to do something etc. This is true of me and I am pretty sure in some ways it is true of you too. However, if we are really going to be the kind of photographers we want to be, we have to walk toward our fears and let the chips fall where they may. I am confident at the end of our lives we will not regret having taken risks.

  4. Fast from Photography: I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just stuck in creative ruts and I can’t get out. When this has happened in the past, I would just try to muscle through it. However, I realizing about myself that sometimes the best thing to do in those situations is just put the camera away for a while, take a deep breath and just be. What ends up happening most of the time is after a short break without my eye glued to the viewfinder, I am seeing life with fresh creativity. So when you get stuck creatively in 2012, just try putting the camera down for a couple of days and see what happens.

  5. Try something new: Whether you are making money from photography or not, it is very easy to only shoot what we like or know. While it is good to be focused as photography and become an expert in one thing, sometimes we need to break out of this and try something new. Maybe its just shooting with one lens for a month or maybe it’s experimenting with creating images that are more impressionistic than realistic. Whatever it is, just try something new for the sake of change. Don’t worry if your experiments will result in any money, just have fun and remember why you started shooting in the beginning.

Good luck and let me know what your ideas are!


Author: The Visual Advocate

Joe Murray, The Visual Advocate, is a Humanitarian and Cultural photographer based in Decatur, Georgia. Joe began his photographic career as an adventure and landscape photographer, but a month-long trip to India in 2009 deeply impacted him and proved to be a turning point in his life and photographic vision. Today, Joe is dedicated to using his craft to create and share compelling images and stories of the lives of the peoples and cultures of the world. While Joe loves and appreciates all the peoples and cultures of the world, he has a particular vision, passion and love for India and South Asia. As both an experienced photographer, public speaker, recruiter and advocate, Joe's goal as a visual artist is not simply to create awareness, but to move people to use their lives and resources to be a blessing to the world's most poor, abused, displaced, stereotyped and overlooked peoples.

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