As children we learned by playing and as photographers we still learn by playing. My youngest son’s favorite question for many years was “What if…” Every time he would ask that question I could see the wheels turning while he tried to imagine all the possibilities. As photographers we do the same thing all the time. When we ask that question with a camera in our hands the wheels are definitely turning. “What if I made the background more out of focus?” “What if I drag the shutter?” What if… what if… what if? Some of the answers to that question get pretty creative and being creative is what photography is all about.
Even when I say I’m “working” I’m still trying to imagine all the possibilities of a thousand “what if’s”. I put working in quotes because for me, most of the time, making photos doesn’t seem like work. The feeling that this might be work comes from other things but not photography itself. I might be under the pressure of a short deadline or in the midst of loosing light but when it come right down to it, you guessed it, I’m playing!
If I weren’t having fun I’d probably be sitting on the couch with the TV tuned in and my mind tuned out. Creativity comes much easier when I’m having a good time, so I play. For me, when I have my camera, playing is always a good time. I’m not afraid to be a little silly when I can be and I don’t take myself too seriously. One of those silly ideas might lead me to the best idea of the day.
Playing with a camera in my hand let’s me be curious and try things that I’m not entirely sure about. Just do it and see what happens. The results might surprise me. Happy accidents happen all the time and quite often produce some great photos. I know for a fact that happy accidents will not happen unless I’m trying something that I haven’t tried before. Happy accidents also happen when I haven’t thought the process all the way through. These are the best kind because I’m thinking one thing is going to happen and something completely different happens!
Whenever you can grab your camera and head out to play and be sure to have some fun. You just might learn a thing or two while you’re at it.