Happy New Year, everyone! I am reminded of this time last year, when then 8-yr-old Riley was cracking crab for our NYE dinner. Her advice: "Don't be scared, just destroy it!" We all immediately adopted the phrase as our New Year's resolution. This year I gave her a copy of Wreck This Journal, and she poked holes in it, jumped on it, threw it from her top bunk, and generally destroyed it with a truly commendable level of enthusiasm. It is with that spirit that I created these simple experiments in photography. There is no way to do them wrong, so interpret them as you see fit!
Take your camera with you everywhere and take pictures of anything you want. Look at your pictures. Pull out the ones you really like. Go out and shoot some more, come back, pick your favorites. Go back to some photos you haven't looked at for a while and pick your favorites again, because they'll be different. Notice how what you see is different than what the camera sees.
This exercise will cultivate your skills and style. You'll get the hang of what your pictures look like when you take them with your camera. You'll start to figure out how to take more pictures that look like your favorites. You'll see how a photo will look before you even raise your camera to your eye.
Play a movie on mute. Study the light in every scene. What is lit, compared to what is in shadow? What and where is the source of light — the sun, or something else? Can you tell what time of day it is? Can you tell what the weather is like? What color is the light, and how does it change the color of what it illuminates? How bright or contrasted is it, compared to the shadows? Is it being modified somehow — reflected, or shining through something that shapes or diffuses it? You can do this exercise anywhere there is light. Stop right now and look around you.
This exercise will help you build a vocabulary for light. You have always seen it, but now you are going to become a connoisseur of its fine nuances. Shoot and review your photos, and see how your growing awareness of light changes what you photograph.
Share a photo online. No more than once a day, and only one photo. Talk about why you chose that photo.
This exercise will help you see that a photo does not have to be perfect in order to resonate with people. By choosing one photo to share, you will continue to hone your style and voice. By sharing, you will find community with other photographers and people who love your photos. As your community grows, you will be introduced to and influenced by more work. This experiment should create an environment that will nurture your continued practice of photography.