Coker on Simplifying Your Life as a Photographer

I really enjoyed reading Mat Coke’s article on simplifying your life as a photographer. His ideas resonated with me, you can read the article by clicking the link but here is a summary.

1. Keep your processing area clean and hang a few prints for inspiration.
Hidden in this advice is the idea that you need to print your work and put it in a frame or presentation format. It does make a difference, and it is not the same as working on screen processing and posting to the internet. Something different happens when you print and frame, you see the work differently. When you move from screen to print you move from a 72dpi world to a 300dpi world which is much less forgiving. Suddenly you can see flaws in your image and your processing. Other times the photograph just does not work in print which informs what you will do differently next time you are in the field.

2. Organize and clean your space and your gear into one kit ready to field with a clean card, charged battery, and sell anything that you don’t need.
Mat is right this does focus your mind and your creativity, it also means if a sudden opportunity arises you can grab the kit and field your camera quickly. When the equipment is down to you critical lenses, for example, my 24, 35, 85 and 135mm primes, I know what I want to use in a given situation. When I had all my lenses were with me somehow my mind was more cluttered with all the possibilities, and choices were not as sharp as it was with a simplified kit.
3. Confront your GAS
Gas, gear acquisition syndrome, I find creeps in when you are not out creating new photographs. It consumes the mind with what you might be able to do with some new camera or lens or device. More importantly GAS often keeps you from getting out there and creating with the gear you already have.
Gear acquisition should come out of a need that arises in the field when working on a project and a specific piece of gear would allow you to advance your project. When you begin the other way around by dreaming up what you might do if you had this or that piece of gear it often turns out to gather dust on your shelf.

ONA Mirrorless Kit Bag

4. Learn one new thing at a time.
There is always something new to learn in photography, and the temptation is to try and explore everything you can all at once, rather than mastering one technique at a time. For example, if you are trying to understand how to best sharpen your images. Make sure you experiment with some images with varying degrees of noise and files from different cameras. In addition to taking in least three good articles or videos on the subject. Make sure you know how all the adjustments operate and print to see what happens when an image is enlarged and not on the computer screen. Then move on to the next thing you want to master whether it is in a post-processing technique or how to light a model’s face.

5. Work within projects.
Experimenting with your photography and capture everything that catches your eye, is part of the creative process. But looking for themes or projects in what interests you is also part of understanding and developing your own creativity. So it is just as important to deliberately work on a specific project whether it be doing a series of portraitures, milky way captures or studies of architectural details. If you are stuck on what project, you might work sort through your back catalogue and arrange the images into categories or themes, and you will likely find themes emerging that will give you an idea for a project.