During the times when going out to shoot is difficult or impossible, you can still use your indoor time to develop your creativity and refine some critical skills for your photography practice. Just being indoors should not mean we are shut down. We can claim this indoor time as a opportunity to build ourselves up.
Forced indoor time
A reality today is than many are locked indoors with few opportunities to get outside. What are you doing with this new found time? When this virus started nearly a year ago I bet most of us had all kinds of upbeat plans for self-improvement activities. We could make a significant dent on our reading list, learn a new language, catch up on years of photo filing, use that rusting exercise bike, etc. How’s that working out for you?
After we got bored and depression set in we have probably gained a few pounds, played too many hours of video games, and binged on Amazon Prime. Time to make a New Year resolution to take back control of our attitude and refocus on our art.
It’s not too late. The opportunities are still there. Get off the couch and start working that list again. Remember your earlier resolve. Just because you’re indoors doesn’t mean you brain is shut off.
Weather is another factor that shuts some of us indoors. I live in Colorado. Winters here can get rather cold and snowy. But that is cyclic. It happens every year. I plan it into my week. I may get out and walk less, but I get out. Maybe I don’t travel as much, but I still do some.
A reality for me is that bad weather creates opportunity for some of the types of images I really like. Things on the edge or extreme: the edge of a storm, a raging blizzard, ominous clouds. These are things most sane people do not go out to see. I do. What does that say?
It’s cold at times, but I can dress for it. There might be some pain, but that is life. If a certain amount of pain is a cost of getting images that please me. I’m willing. And I find that when I come back in, with my fingers aching and my beard covered over with ice, I am happy. I am proud that I made myself do it. I feel better about myself and invigorated. There is the satisfaction that I went out and tried instead of sitting at home telling myself the weather was too bad to get out.
Let me disclaim that I have many years of experience doing this, I get pretty good clothes for the climate, I have a good 4 wheel drive, and I carry proper emergency equipment. Don’t jump off a cliff without looking.
OK, you’re stuck inside. How can you pursue your art? Maybe you can’t be making your images right now, but you can be getting ready to hit it strong when you can. Browse other artist’s sites. (Sorry, blatant plug.) Be amazed at their work and gather inspiration to weave into your style. Not to copy but to motivate new ideas.
Look, too, for interviews and discussions with artists. These are more prevalent these days because so many of us are feeling very isolated. Artists, among others, are are starting to reach out more to build community. Some are inspiring and motivating.
Seriously consider online training, like KelbyOne or Creative Live. It costs a few bucks, but really, less than a Netflix subscription. And they are more valuable to your career. Or there are many sources of free videos, such as B&H Explora. The Learn Photography section has an amazing amount of material. Their series on Understanding Exposure is very good.
And of course You Tube has more photography videos than you could watch in a lifetime. For free. There are valuable ones if you can find them. Your mileage may vary.
Focus on skill building
A specific suggestion is to focus on improving your post processing skills during this time. Most of us could use more depth in Lightroom or Photoshop or your tool of choice. This is a great opportunity.
“For photographers, Adobe Photoshop is still the gold standard of editing applications, and the one to which all others are compared. And even if you’re not a Photoshop user, its omnipresence almost acts like the foundation of a communal language from which to talk about editing photos in general.” – Bjorn Petersen
Yes, love them or hate them, Lightroom and Photoshop are the basis of a shared cultural experience for photographers worldwide. It is useful to know whether or not you use it.
The sources I mention above have a lot of good training for this. And you have extra time now for practice and experimentation. That is a great benefit. This new information should be used to build competence. A lot of repetition is necessary before they are ready to be incorporated into your workflow.
It is not a skill until you can actually do it. The more familiar and experienced you are with your craft, the easier and more fun it becomes. It can be a valuable goal to decide to come out of this with an improved workflow and ability to better craft your art.
Opportunity is there. It is always there. My glass has been half empty for too long. I am trying to re-frame my viewpoint. I’m done with the “poor me” attitude.
The same opportunities are still there. Turn off the TV and Facebook and remember what your creativity is pushing you to do. Start with one little thing. Something you would enjoy and can do in an hour or less. Do it. Now you have accomplished something. Celebrate! Use that to build momentum. Keep going.
This indoor time is too valuable to waste. Use it wisely.
Some photographers who inspire me (in random order):
Ben Willmore (Ben is also a master Photoshop and Lightroom trainer)