Brooke Shaden, a fine arts photographer, is interviewed in this month's edition of Rangefinder. In answering a question concerning turning points in a career, Brooke responded that "everytime I'm too comfortable and I think everything is easy, I'm really at the end of one phase and entering a new chapter. I love to be unsettled. I love to be knocked from my high horse to roll in the mud below. This is how I keep surprising myself."
As a photographer, it's easy to get lulled into complacency - using the same skill set and the same "object of desire," whether landscapes, or portraits, or architecture, or sports, or ..." When the next photograph is too comfortable, too automatic, too, well, the same, it might just be time to explore a new genre. To roll around in the mud. To surprise yourself.
I just did that this past week. I accompanied a small group to visit schools, hospitals, orphanages, and other facilities in Haiti and photographed buildings, settings, patients, students, participants, landscapes, and even a pickup basketball game. Way outside my norm, way outside my comfort zone. And literally walking through mud at one point! And it was one of the most exciting weeks of photography ever! Surprised myself. Yes, it built on skills I've honed over the decades, but in new ways, in a new environment, on assignment. And sets a new direction for at least some of my photography. And its all good.