One of the biggest lessons that any photographer can learn about their own work is how to separate themselves from the project or image. When photographers are starting out and still learning, they tend to become very emotionally attached to and invested in the images that they create. This goes all across the board for everyone if they’re very serious about the work that they’re trying to create. Unfortunately, what this ends up doing is impeding their growth. For some, it’s crippling. For others, they learn to separate themselves from their images.
After all, they’re just images.
The way the separate yourself from your own photography involves, quite honestly, the act of you stop taking photos and instead looking at and studying images. When you look over an image for a long period of time, you internalize it. The process involves finding its good traits and bad traits. That’s how you learn to create specifically better images that try to stand on their own.
However, many photographers also try to create some sort of series. The way to create a better series of images is to first answer a couple of big questions:
- Who does this project involve?
- Who is doing this project?
- What is the aim and mission of the project?
- What is it trying to tell me?
- From what point of view if the photographer trying to frame this project?
- When is this all happening?
- Does that matter?
- Where is this happening?
- Is the idea of the location important to the series? How so?
- How is this project trying to get its aim across?
- Why would I want to look at this?
After these questions are answered, then go through the series and criticize each image with these questions. Said questions are just a start and it’s very likely that you could develop more as you ponder over the photos.
Do this with many, many different photo essays and individual images. Then when you’re done, take the best of the best of your portfolio and apply that same thought process without thinking about any of this emotionally or giving yourself any sort of benefit of the doubt.
Instead, go into the project viewing doubtful that it’s going to accomplish its goal.
Through this process, you’ll learn to separate yourself from your work.
In the case, that you’re the person that loves to just take images for themselves; that’s fine. Take photos and be merry. But for the person that wants to actually improve their own portfolio to one day make a living (or at least part of their living) off of their photography, try these steps.