on newness and springtime and going way, way out of your comfort zone

This year marks 19 years since I purchased my first single-lens-reflex camera.  I’m self-taught, and in that time, I’ve shot literally hundreds of thousands of photographs.  I’ve photographed flowers and faces and faraway places.  I’ve written and shot a book.  I kept up a photoblog for over 9 years.  And after playing with my camera for all this time, I’ve realized something:

My photographs are starting to feel same-old-same-old.  I have my processing tricks down pat.  I shoot from the same angles every time.  I know what works and what doesn’t, and I’m not sure how to experiment in a way that stretches me.  And I need to stretch.

This feeling — of being stagnant, of not growing — has become really acute over the last few weeks.  Perhaps it’s because it’s springtime, and there’s so much newness in the air, but I decided that it was time to shake myself up a bit.  So for the first time in my life, I signed up for a photography course.  But not just any course:  a course led by this fine art photographer.

As you can see, her work is nothing like my work: it’s surreal, and fantastical, and a bit out there.  And honestly, I don’t really have any plans on changing the types of photographs I take:  I find her work, while undeniably beautiful, a bit dark; and I, as you know, am all about the light.  But I think her techniques are amazing — mind-boggling, really.  I figure that simply by learning her methods — these methods and this way of shooting that are so different from mine — that I’m inevitably going to learn something.  And learning is always a good thing.

The course is this coming weekend.  I’ve purchased the recommended tools, pulled together my gear, and made my packing list.  I can’t wait.  I’m also a bit scared.  But I love that I’m doing this — scaring myself, I mean — at the beginning of the spring season.  Spring is all about renewal, and it occurs to me that maybe springtime is the time when we should do something a bit scary, a bit out there.  Something that shakes up our comfort zones.  Because I suspect that sometimes blissing your heart requires just that.

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