Why You Should Create “Parallel Interests” in Your Photography

Downtown LA, 2011
Downtown LA, 2011

I’m currently reading “The Essential Drucker” by the management educator Peter Drucker. His insights into companies, communities, society have been quite inspirational to me.

The most interesting interesting concept that I got from Drucker was the idea of creating a “parallel career” — a career that goes in tandem with whatever you’re doing right now. This way you can “cross-pollinate” the two interests or passions you have, which also help build upon one another. And you can do this by creating “parallel interests”.

Why “parallel interests”?

Hollywood, 2011
Hollywood, 2011

We all need a challenge in our lives. Not only that, but we all want to stay creative for our entire lives.

Drucker talks about how many middle-aged executives lose passion for they work, because they have mastered their field, and there is no more room for growth.

Therefore he has recommended for a lot of people to build second careers in their lives, just in-case they outgrow the first.

I also feel that as photographers, it is hard for us to constantly find inspiration. I know I do — and if you have ever hit “photographers block”, or wanted to take your photography to the next level — you can probably relate.

Sociology x Photography

Downtown LA, 2011
Downtown LA, 2011

I feel that I’ve been understanding this concept of “parallel interests” for a while, but haven’t been able to define or put it into words.

For example, my two parallel interests have been sociology and photography.

I studied sociology in university, and have always been interested in human interaction, human communities, and society as a whole.

Photography is my passion — I love image-making, art, and creativity.

Combining both sociology and photography, I discovered “street photography.” I consider street photography as applied sociology. Instead of using a pen and pad to do research (typical sociologists), I use a camera as my research tool.

The benefit of having “parallel interests”

Downtown LA, 2015
Downtown LA, 2015

The great thing about having these two parallel interests is that they help me be creative, and build upon different ideas.

For example, a lot of concepts from sociology — I add that to my photography. And concepts I learn from photography — I add that to my interest in sociology.

Furthermore, within sociology and photography, I have branched out my interests.

Sociology has lead me to studying psychology, neuroscience, business, psychology, marketing, and human motivation.

Photography has lead me to studying portrait photography, street photography, landscape photography, and fashion photography.

This allows for more “cross-pollination” to happen— and for more creative ideas to come forth.

How I’ve applied “parallel interests” in my photography

Downtown LA, 2015
Downtown LA, 2015

In terms of my photography, my “parallel interests” include “street photography” as well as fashion photography. I tend to be drawn to shooting “street portraits” of people with interesting fashion.

I don’t think that I practice a pure form of “street photography” — mine is a mix of portraiture, interest in fashion, and human psychology.

Furthermore, when I tried shooting fashion photography for the first time — I realized I wasn’t shooting fashion photography how it was traditionally shot. I realized that I was actually less interested in shooting the fashion, and more interested in photographing portraits of the model (who happened to be wearing interesting clothes).

How to mesh your “parallel interests”

Downtown LA, 2015
Downtown LA, 2015

So friend, a suggestion for you to stay inspired and creative in your photography is to discover your own “parallel interests” in your photography.

For example, you can mesh up the following:

  • Fashion x Street Photography
  • Landscape x Street Photography
  • Portraiture x Street Photography

Or you can develop “parallel interests” in other forms of art:

  • Photography x Painting
  • Photography x Theater
  • Photography x Sculpture
  • Photography x Business
  • Photography x Music

There are so many ways you can develop “parallel interests” in the field of photography or outside of photography.

How can you combine your existing passions and interests in life, and how can both of these passions or interests build off one another?

Identify your own “parallel interests”

Downtown LA, 2015
Downtown LA, 2015

So as an assignment, write down a list (on your phone or a piece of paper) of your “parallel interests” — and share them with the community by adding the hashtag #streettogs. Or share your ideas with me via Instagram/Twitter/Facebook.

You can contact me on Twitter @erickimphoto and on Instagram @erickimphoto.

Never stop being creative, and see how you can take your work to the next level.