Every time you make a new photo, you are innovating in your photography. Then the goal is for you to keep innovating by making new photos.
1. Harness your dissatisfaction in a positive way
I am never fully satisfied with my photography. And perhaps that is a good thing, because it actually gives me the motivation to go out and make new photos. And the goal isn’t to make one perfect photo that will withstand the jaws of time, but rather, keep up the process.
So the practical thought is this: if you’re not easily satisfied in your photography, consider that a blessing rather than a curse. The question then becomes how can you channel this dissatisfaction in a positive and productive way.
2. See your photos differently
We photographers love the visual. We love visual innovation, and to see the embodied world anew.
Some thing I personally love to do is to view my photos on my iPad, and whenever I see a Composition I like, I just sketch it.
3. Apply your photographic style and approach to different contexts and places
For example, if you love street photography and the street photography approach, how can you apply your street photography style to wedding photography or shooting nature?
For example, I realize I actually really like hiking. There is something very Zen and calming about hiking and nature, and being away from the city. Therefore I try to apply my street photography aesthetics to nature, that is photographing Cindy, photographing Seneca, photographing myself, or even shooting strangers during hikes.
This is cross pollinating your photographic style.
4. Apply different filters to your photos
I love using my iPad and the Procreate app to glitch my photos, add gradient maps, add chromatic abbreviation, inverse my photos, add grain, or attempt to destroy my photos. why do I like to do this? It allows me to see my photos in novel and interesting ways.
While I am glitching my photos, what I’m trying to figure out is why I like a certain photo, and how certain photos stand up. For example, it seems that a really strong photograph will still be interesting even after you’ve attempted to destroy and glitch the photo. Another interesting realization: adding grain actually helps add clarity to your photos.
Also the joy of adding gradient maps to my photos, like adding my signature Crimson red and black to my photos, is because I just like certain colors. And therefore the hybrid of shooting black and white photos and then adding color on top of it is visually enjoyable to me.
Perhaps we could do something similar, that is just shoot in black-and-white, and figure out how you could add your own favorite signature colors on top of it after the fact.
5. How to innovate your composition
Contrary to popular belief, not all of the secrets of composition have yet been discovered. There is still infinite room to explore and innovate in Photography Composition.
But how do you do this? I say study fields outside of photography. for example, study cinema and see how cinematic videographers use panning close-ups for shots and blocking techniques to add drama and intrigue to their pictures.
or study calligraphy. Why is it that certain shapes forms and brushstroke patterns or so dynamic and interesting to look at?
You could spend the rest of your life experimenting with Composition and never reach an end. And this is what is so great, that we have taken what Henri Cartier Bresson has done before, and to build on top of it and beyond it.
6. Dodge and avoid the modern
Avoid social media and modern trends. It seems that nowadays with the Internet and social media, everyone is just trying to copy and iterate on top of each other, rather than excluding themselves creatively and trying something totally brand new.
For example, Steve Jobs was so innovative because he was quite strange. He was a self-professed Fruitatarian, that is, he only would drink Blended fruits, and thought this could starve off his pancreatic cancer. Even on his deathbed he was interested in innovating the health monitors, because you consider them so ugly. Also before he died, he designed his own ideal yacht.
Steve Jobs was also very interested in Zen Buddhism, yoga, and Indian systems of belief. He actually backpacked through India like a homeless person and had certain austere aesthetic approaches in his life. ultimately he combined all of his interests and applied it to Apple design philosophy.
Perhaps a sign of you being innovative is when others see you as strange and foreign. That people don’t understand what you’re doing, and they don’t like it either. For example, Steve Jobs would often walk around barefoot to board meetings, and everyone would complain of his body odor. Compare that to the modern day hipster who is always concerned on how others see them, especially on social media.
The simplest way to become more innovative is via Negativa: that is, figuring out what you subtract from your life. For example, the number one advice I have is to delete your Instagram. And to stop using Facebook. And maybe even stop using Google. What social media tries to do is equalize and mediocritize everybody.
Social media says that every single individual is absolutely equal, and anybody who steps outside of these boundaries is bad.
For example, consider that on Facebook and Instagram and YouTube, all likes are created alike. But certainly if Elon Musk liked one of your posts, that should be worth at least 1 billion times more than 1000 random people on the Internet liking your thing. For example there is no such thing as a “super like.” social media doesn’t weigh the importance of the individual.
Therefore what this means is if you’re stuck in the social media matrix or bubble, you are stuck in a bubble of mediocrity.
Disconnect and unplug yourself from the social media matrix, in order to become more innovative and interesting.