Greetings fellow users of the internet.
No one can argue that one of the biggest life changing moments one can experience is having a child. Gone are the days of freedom, both in terms of time and money; two things which photography can heavily require. However, this change in lifestyle doesn’t have to mean the end of your photography. Rather, it can test your ability to adapt to your conditions. Admittedly, I’ve been lucky to have such a wonderful wife to do most of the heavy lifting at home, so I can still enjoy my hobby and work towards making it something more. That being said, I’ve still done my best to reduce the amount of time I’m out of the house, chasing the light.
One thing I find a lot of professionals will talk about is “finding your style”. I can see where this comes from, as it can be easier to maintain an audience when they know what to expect. However, as many artists and creators have shown, sometimes it also helps to have a variety of styles. Let us not forget, George Miller made both the high impact, visually stunning, adrenaline rush that was Mad Max: Fury Road, as well as the movie that definitely exists, Happy Feet. Also, if you look at some of the greats in music, many of them changed their sound and style over the years; The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Wombats (OK… so I’m just a big fan, sue me).
However, I feel like the problem with “finding your style” is that it can stagnate creativity. I don’t want to name drop, but there are a lot of professional landscape photographers I fell in love with back in 2015/2016, but after just two years of seeing epic Icelandic landscape after Icelandic landscape, it just gets a little… dull. Don’t get me wrong, they are still great and I still admire their work, but even I put away my Beatles albums for a few days in favor of The Gorillaz or Foster the People.
All this is to say, the ability to adapt and try new styles is key to staying active and fresh. This is where we come back around to the overall topic mentioned in my title (it only took 3 paragraphs). Having a baby forced me to change from a more landscape based focus into a more building abstract focused style. This has benefited me in a number of ways. The first of which is that it has significantly increased the number of quality and unique images I can create in a shorter amount of time. Where I used to take a 2 hour trip (one way) to grab one or to photos during sunset or sunrise, I can now get upwards of 3 or 4 just 20-30 minutes from my house, all hours of the day. This has allowed me to expand my style from just landscape photography, which, let’s face it, is an over-saturated photography market, to a more abstract style, which is still prominent, but much less so than landscapes. As a result, I’m able to spend more time with my family and helping around the house than standing around waiting for the light.
Another way this has helped me is by changing the way I see cities. If you had told me a year ago that some of my favorite images of the year would be taken on a bridge in Kawasaki, a train station on the border of Chiba and Tokyo, or a parking lot in Hamamatsu, I would have called you crazy. However, here we are in 2019, and that is the case. These days, buildings aren’t just buildings, they are possible subjects, and I’ve been finding more and more joy walking around the city looking for the perfect angle to capture abstract images, regardless of how crazy it makes me look.
The final way this has helped me is by giving me the chance to explore parts of Tokyo I’ve never seen before, even after living here for 5 years, and passing by them numerous times. A few years ago I felt I needed to go to amazing locations in Yamanashi or Nagano for a few days to capture truly great images, however, now I find I’m better able to do that by just taking a short trip over to Shinjuku or Musashi-Kosugi. This means I’m able to save money and spend more time with my family, all while continuing to produce high quality images. Had I never had a baby, I don’t know if I ever would have been able to see the cities of Japan in the way I currently do: as abstract wonders waiting to be photographed.
Has there ever been a moment and life event that has caused you to change your photography? I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to contact me via the “contact” page, and I might just share your story here.
Thanks for reading.