Step Away from the Camera May 5, 2015 – Posted in: Photography – Tags:

National Photography Month was recognized by Congress in 1987. And I think May was an excellent choice for this celebration.

Spring is a time of new beginnings. The planet takes a deep breath, resets itself, and prepares for another cycle of growth, then harvest – not a bad pattern for artists either.

One of my personal goals is to create something entirely new every year. It could be anything, a business venture, a fresh approach to photography, or an improvement in my personal life.

Part of this process is stepping back and evaluating where I am. As an artist, am I creating new images or just relying on the techniques that I’m already comfortable with? And have I taken a moment to look around to see what my peers are doing?


I think a great starting point for this process is the Flickr Explore page. Every day hundreds of new images by enthusiast photographers are displayed for our inspiration and enjoyment. As I scroll through these pictures, I see photographs I wish I’d captured. And I notice compositions that are definitely not me. It’s good to have a feel for both.

During a recent stay in San Francisco, I visited the Leica Gallery at 463 Bush Street. One entire wall was covered with B&W images by Vladimir Panasenko. Those prints had a presence that inspired me to work harder on my own street shooting while in the city.

Even at home, when we’re just quietly having a cup of coffee, we can open a book, such as Why Photographs Work by George Barr, and flip through the pages. Maybe something will catch our eye that we previously missed. You never really know where the next creative spark is going to originate.

The point is, we don’t always have to have a camera in our hands to become better photographers. By looking at the world through the eyes of others, we’re open to seeing things that we may have previously missed… especially if we were limiting our vision to the narrow perspective of optical viewfinders.

Derrick Story is the photography evangelist for Rocky Nook Publishing.