Last week I read a wonderful post by Jessica Abel about a concept called “Idea Debt”. It resonated with me because it’s something that I am very much guilty of doing, and I have a feeling it gets worse the more I learn about photography.
The gist of the concept is that it’s very easy to get caught up in the idea-phase of a creative task; planning out every detail and trying to make sure everything is perfect before you start. In reality, nothing is perfect, so all you’re doing is setting yourself up for failure.
Back then I were a young lad, way back in 2007 when I got my first proper camera, I found it much easier to take photographs. I didn’t know about lighting, composition, aesthetics, contrast, form, colour, shape or texture, the idea was all I needed. I had an idea, and I went and photographed it, job done. Not the best photos I’ve ever taken, but they were actual bytes on my hard drive instead of ethereal thoughts and myriad possibilities.
Each technique you learn, every bit of knowledge you gain as to what makes a pleasing photograph builds up the number of things that require your creative attention. So many things that can stop you actually taking a photograph – is the light right, is there a good composition here, what’s the story I’m telling, what’s the purpose of the photograph, what’s the subject of the photo, which way is the eye drawn across this scene, do the colours work well with each other. So many things!
The solution is predictable, stop thinking and just take the photo. It won’t be perfect, but sometimes you get lucky, and it’s just good enough.