Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Beyond the Comfort Zone

by Kelly

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. ~Neale Donald Walsch 

I blame Pinterest.

I swear I'm going to have that tattooed on my forehead someday.

I had a couple of flower arrangements that needed to have their stems re-cut and be put in fresh water.  That's it. But that was before I stumbled across this Pin on Pinterest.  And you know how that goes right?  An hour later I fell down the rabbit hole into the whole genre of dark & moody floral photography.

Admittedly, this sort of dark and moody look isn't really my go-to style.  But for some reason it really stood out to me that day.  Perhaps it's the deep,vibrant color - something I'm sorely missing right now in my own garden.  Or maybe it's the beautiful light.  Either way, I was immediately smitten and decided that my wilted flowers would make a perfect subject.

Like I said...this isn't really a style that I am comfortable with.  It was a little frustrating at first trying to get my exposure just right.  And then there was experimenting in Lightroom to achieve the moody look I was going for.  But after a bit of trial and error, I wound up with several shots that I was pretty happy with.

After I had a chance to let this experiment sort of sink in a little, I realized that lately I have been a bit complacent with regards to my photography.  For the past several months my typical workflow has looked something like this:

  • find pretty light
  • add an interesting subject
  • take a bunch of pictures
Now please don't get me wrong.  It feels SO good to finally be at a place in my photography where I feel fairly comfortable in most situations. It was a long road to get here, and there is nothing at all wrong with feeling the feeling of confidence that comes from studying and practicing any skill or craft.  In fact, I have a friend who once told me that it is important to take a moment to relish the satisfaction that comes with any accomplishment.  

But I also believe that there are times when it's appropriate - beneficial even - to push ourselves.  To get outside of our comfort zones and try new things.

This is where I have been lately...feeling a subtle urge to expand my creativity.  And I think it is important that we heed this gentle knocking at our souls.  To cast aside fear and doubt.  To play and experiment and push our own boundaries.  For me, this exercise gave me that same exhilarating feeling of accomplishment that I used to get when I first started out in photography.

I think that life is a lot like art in the sense that it is often during those times of challenge and adversity that we experience the most growth.  This is something I am learning to embrace in my personal life.  And although these times can be extremely uncomfortable...painful even!...the lessons I have learned have made me a wiser person and a more confident photographer.

So how about you?  Have you tried something new or taken any risks with your photography lately?  If so, what did you learn about photography...or yourself?  And if not, what do you think is holding you back?

Until next time,  Kelly

P.S. Like I shared in my post, I have been pushing my creative boundaries lately - not just in my photography but also in my personal life.  I recently accepted an invitation to create a class at Skillshare.com.  My class is called Adobe Lightroom::One Photo Four Ways and in this class I am sharing the basics of my post-processing workflow as well as some of my favorite creative editing techniques.  As always, thank you so much for all of your kind words and encouragement...I am so grateful to be part of this wonderful community.  Love, Kelly


Dotti said...

Such beautiful, deep, rich tones in your photographs, Kelly! I love seeing other people do this type of photography but I haven't yet been very successful with it myself. However, I totally agree with you: we need to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. It is possible to do this without abandoning the work that has brought us to where we are {you know -- dancin' with the one that brung ya} but there is always so much to learn by experimenting in new 'genres' that it can only inform all of our work and make us more well-rounded photographers.

terriporter said...

You are so right, Kelly! It is easy to reach a place of complacency where we think, "I've got this!" And it's fine to stay in that place for a while and enjoy what we've been working for. But then boredom kind of sets in and we really need to step outside of our comfort zone and try something new. I have not been a big fan of "dark and moody". I like light, bright and colorful images. And after a few tries, I decided it wasn't for me. I don't think there's anybody who is less likely to step out of the box than me, but you are making me want to go back and give it another try. And as far as applying this thought to life, that challenge and adversity causes us to experience growth, it is so hard to remember that when you're in the middle of it but looking back, I know that it is true. Your photos are absolutely stunning.

kelly said...

dotti - you hit the nail on the head for me...how to stay true to my creative vision but to also be open to integrating these new ideas into my style. giving my photography some room to evolve. :)

terri - you're absolutely right ...it's almost always in hindsight where i learn to appreciate the challenges and struggles. :)

Carol said...

You have always been such a hard worker, Kelly! And we get to see the results - which are beautifullllll!!!!

Susan W said...

Trying for dark and moody while still finding the light can be such a difficult thing to achieve, but you've certainly hit it here. Love your posts.

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