Why You Should Put Yourself on Assignment
When you open your email’s ‘Inbox’ to find that an editor has reached out for you to take photos, it’s exhilarating. Making pictures, being creative, having access to photograph interesting people, places, things, etc., and making money—it all can be as thrilling as it sounds.
The reality for many though (me included), is that there can be significant gaps in time when these wonderful photographic opportunities take place. When you aren’t receiving photo commissions, it can be difficult.
This, my friends, is where the self assignment comes in.
You’ve probably seen some visually arresting and/or gripping humanitarian photo stories. Instead of waiting and hoping that interesting photographic subject matter finds its way to you, seek out your own interesting photographic story ideas.
Many times I’ve photographed something on my own time and on my own dime, then approached afterward to photograph a similar story, but as a paying gig.
Making images that are your own idea usually results in fantastic photos because you’re able to photograph what you think is interesting. And, the photographs can usually be made without a deadline. You have complete freedom to follow through with your vision.
Photographing regularly and with purpose will also result in improvements to your photography since you’ll be advancing your experience.
You don’t have a photographic vision? Absolutely fine.
If you enjoy being creative with your photography, set aside a weekend every once in a while and simply photograph for the sake of photographing.
You can head off to the big city or just travel to a small area in the middle of the country. The important focus here is that you’re committing time for yourself and your craft that allows you to focus on creativity and producing art.
Architectural photography has been deeply fulfilling for me lately, so recently I spent a weekend in Chicago photographing nothing but architecture. I made it a priority (and I always make this a priority) to plan a trip that would be as budget-friendly—without compromising safety—as possible.
The days were long, with photos being made from dawn until dusk. Creative time is not to be squandered, at least by me, so it’s always important to me to maximize whatever time I have.
My days and photographic locations were my own to plan and decide.
When my photographic weekend in Chicago was finished, I’d walked away with tired legs, but also a fantastic body of work that was new and exciting to photograph.
Make time for yourself and your creativity and you’ll find that the rewards are many.
2 thoughts on “Why You Should Put Yourself on Assignment”
Very wise advice Keith! I find my blog keeps me photographing with intent, as I try to publish once a week. And I am presently working on a body of work in the hope of achieving a distinction with the Royal Photographic Society. This is a real challenge, and my photography is getting better as a result. The other benefit is that I am now seeing things as assignments or projects, which makes it all the more exciting!
That’s fantastic Steve! Your blog, photos and publishing frequency are all inspiring. Also, it’s a treat whenever I’m notified of your latest blog post. How exciting, too, that you’re creating a body of work for yourself as you pursue the Royal Photographic Society! Here’s to photographic pursuits!