How to Push Your Photographic Limits (Because you Definitely Should)


Push Your Photographic Limits this Year and Beyond…

Like life, as we get further into photography we face the danger of getting set in our ways. We become comfortable with what we are doing because we are good at it.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with being comfortable in your photography, however, you can never really know how good you are unless you push your photographic limits.

When we first set out in photography, we are of course pushing our limits with every shoot.

We're learning, trying new things, making mistakes and getting better every day. Once you get to a certain level, however, that boundary pushing starts to level off.

Sure we take better and better pictures but only in the comfort zone of our abilities. We tend to balk at pushing beyond our own spheres of knowledge.

push your photographic limits
Image by Jeremy Bishop

Today we are going to look at some ways to push your photographic limits.

1. Know Your Limits

Before you can expand you need to know what your limitations are. Look through your back catalog and in particular more recent photos. Try to identify areas where you are not happy with the end result.

It might be a poor choice of lens or an incorrect lighting set up.

Look also at images that are outside your normal repertoire. If you shoot street photos look for genre's other than street that you may have attempted and not been happy with.

Think carefully about where your weaknesses are. Think about what area of photography attracts you yet you have not tried. Try to confine any new ideas to the kit you already own, there is no point in spending money in the experimentation phase.

Photo by Bonita Suraputra

Look for your weaknesses before pushing your limits.

2. Improving in Your Own Field

The first area you can push your limits is in the subjects you already know. Take a familiar subject and try to approach it in several different ways.

For example, you might often shoot a beautiful church nearby. Try re-shooting it but restricting yourself to one lens. You could shoot it only for black and white or restrict yourself to shooting only the close details rather than the whole?

Taking a familiar subject and trying to capture it in many different ways is a great way to push beyond your normal limitations.

Photo by Altug Karakoc

Start by pushing the limitations of your own genre of photography.

3. Go Inside

If you are primarily the outdoor type of photographer, try some inside shooting.

This might be as simple as doing a little still life shoot in your kitchen with speedlights or hiring a studio and experimenting with a model and lighting.

Outdoor photographers, often struggle with inside shoots, so it's a good test of your abilities. Don’t attempt anything too elaborate, a simple shoot with a couple of lights and a focused idea of what you want to achieve. One of the biggest de-motivators is failure.

We should aim to push our limits a little at a time.

Photo by Alan Ant

Hire a studio for a while and learn about artificial lighting.

4. Learn a New Field

Always fancied street photography? Get out there and try it. Read a little, push your skills both as a photographer and as a person. Most photographers have one or two fields they are competent at and one or two they aspire to.

Don’t hold back, get out there and try that new field. Manage your expectations and try to learn where you went wrong as well as where you nailed it.

There is so much information about every sphere of photography that you can easily research the knowledge you require online. Submit your efforts to critique sites for honest opinions and advice.

Photo by Brlnpics123

Street photography can push the limits of many photographers.

5. Go Back To Basics

Nothing pushes our limits further than taking control of our cameras. Switch everything over to manual. Exposure, focus, set your own white balance.

By taking full control, you will expand not only your knowledge of the basics but the little nuances you might miss when shooting auto. You might see how dynamic range is affected by ISO.

You can see how shooting in one white balance preset gives a different mood to shooting in another. You start to become one with the camera, an instinctive photographer.

If you are really ambitious, buy a cheap manual only film SLR and try shooting film-only for a few weeks. You will find yourself trusting your photographic knowledge and instincts much more.

Pushing our limits is the only way we can improve our abilities in photography. It's not always easy but by taking small steps and managing our expectations we can slowly push ourselves further and further.

Further Resources

About Author

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here.

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