Have You Become Obsessed with One Aspect of Photography?

Have You Become Obsessed with One Aspect of Photography?

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ObsessionHave you ever become a little obsessed with one aspect of your photography?

I have.

The last time it happened was in the weeks after buying a new fast lens – a f/1.4 50mm lens. Having something so fast resulted in me virtually setting the aperture at it’s largest setting (f/1.4) and shooting everything at that setting!

The problem was that all my shots became very similar to one another. Lots of shots with very very small depth of field.

It’s happened to me before in different ways.

  • Format – I went through a ‘patch’ a year or two ago when I realized that all my shots were taken in a horizontal (landscape) framing and that I rarely went into vertical (portrait) mode.
  • Shutter Speed – Another time (years ago) I had a stage of shooting everything at slow shutter speeds (I thought the blur was artistic…. go figure!)
  • Focal Length – I also went through a patch after buying a 24-105mm lens of always shooting tightly framed shots (at 105mm).

Photographic obsessions can take many shapes and forms (I’m sure we could come up with a good long list of how we all do it). They often follow the purchase of a new piece of gear or the learning of a new technique and to some extent they are natural.

In fact they can actually be helpful at times as they help you to learn how to use that new lens or perfect that new technique that you’ve been trying. However they can also have their ‘costs’ and leave you with a collection of images that have a certain level of ‘sameness’ about them.

Here’s something to do to assess your photographic obsessions:

Open up your photo organizing tool (whether it’s a program on your computer, an online storage tool etc) and scroll through the last couple of months of images.

What do you notice?

  • What type of subjects are you photographing?
  • What type of framings do you use?
  • Which format do you shoot in (horizontal/vertical)?
  • What aperture are you shooting at?
  • What shutter speed?
  • What ISO setting do you use?
  • What focal length are you using?
  • Do you always use the same lens?

While there’s nothing wrong with noticing similarities between your shots (we all have our own style) it can be sometimes useful to know what your tenancies are and to encourage yourself to step out into trying new things with your photography.

What’s Your Photographic Obsession?

Related Reading10 Ways to Add Variety to Your Digital Photography

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • alrey November 21, 2010 01:48 am

    Please let me know if there's any permit or license to carry when taking pictures in any places,private or public to avoid any cercumtances.

    regards
    alrey.

  • Clipping path March 26, 2009 06:30 pm

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  • Andrew Ferguson June 7, 2007 08:42 am

    My latest photographic obsession is post-production related.

    I've been noticing myself editing far too many photos to have Lomo qualities; high contrast, slightly off colours, blue tint, heavy vignetting, etc.

    I've become really enamored with the effect, but I think I'm overusing it. I'm trying to curtail it!

    I need to get back on the wagon...

  • Sherri Meyer June 6, 2007 12:42 am

    I go through phases. I am always obsessed with light, especially backlighting and sidelighting. Currently, I seem to have a love affair with "zooming." If you are not sure what "zooming" is, let me explain. When shooting a subject, use a very slow shutter speed and zoom in or out while pressing the shutter release. Experiment with different shutter speeds and subjects to see what works best. Using this technique with flowers has been most successful for me. Try it, you might like it!

    http://www.sherrimeyer.com
    http://www.sherrimeyer.com/Blog

  • Mo June 5, 2007 08:06 pm

    I personally find myself taking panoramic photos alot!!! Maybe a little more than i should.

  • eyeflare June 2, 2007 11:14 pm

    For some reason I'm always taking photos of interesting graffiti wherever I go. That, and for a long time the only camera used was my Holga... Speaking of which, I'll pull it out now and photograph my wife!

  • Karen June 2, 2007 11:05 pm

    I'm with Sylvia-- I'm a flower gal. I have a collection of my mother's flowers and I recently framed them to hang in my office. Each year, I try a new plant in my garden and I'm starting my own collection of flower photos to hang in our basement (when the hubby finishes it!).

  • AC June 2, 2007 06:57 am

    Flowers and lights - they are still the subjects I take the most snaps of. In my defense, I am trying out new ways of taking the snaps!

  • Sylvia C. June 2, 2007 06:06 am

    I'm a flower-gal. I love taking pictures of flowers.

    I want to try new things, too, but I will always be a flower-gal at heart!

    Sylvia C.

  • Jeff June 2, 2007 01:52 am

    No matter where I travel I come home with at least 10 photos or more just of different clocks or doors. Even more when I travel to Europe.

  • Sugriva June 2, 2007 01:51 am

    I have been on stints with new lenses as well. I did the same thing with my new 50mm f1.8 lens.

  • gacetillero June 1, 2007 10:14 pm

    Depends on the lens I'm shooting with. My 35mm f/2 and my 50mm f/1.8 cry out for available light shooting at high isos indoors. I've taken a lot a nice high-contrast portraits with both of them. The 35mm tends to lend itself to contextualised potraits (ie background) while the 50mm tends towards frame-filling closeups.

    When I have the stock 18-70mm lens on during the day I tend to be more varied.

  • Taavi June 1, 2007 08:36 pm

    I'm a bit obsessed with motion tracking and shooting with the widest aperture.

  • Phil June 1, 2007 03:24 pm

    I had been obsessed with photographing fireworks, but now I find most of my shots to be taken vertically. It somehow frustrates me, yes.

  • Sime June 1, 2007 10:09 am

    New flash is about to arrive so i'm hoping that it will drag me kicking and screaming out of my current 50mm f1.4 rut (yep, still in it!) ...a bit of off camera flash never killed anyone Puplet, I think i'll get into it next week.

  • Puplet June 1, 2007 08:50 am

    Off-camera flash this month. Everything needs to be artificially lit. By something off-camera. Obviously.

  • xavier June 1, 2007 08:34 am

    i shoot nice doors with number labels, i'm trying to have all the numbers from 1 to 40 (trying to be reasonable on this one) and i have a douzen so far...
    :D

  • James June 1, 2007 07:25 am

    My photo teacher in college said that early on you need to really nail things down( styles, formats, lenses) for about a year. Meaning, you get a new lens, shoot with it for about a year till you know every aspect of it. and then move on. so your pattern sounds about right for fully understanding the things you shoot. I am sure that you will hold onto alot more info about the different styles you were stuck on, so that when a shot comes up you will have the right tool for the job.

  • Michael June 1, 2007 05:33 am

    I can't say that I've fallen in too much of a rut, whether it's portrait or landscape, a specific aperture setting, or a favorite shutter speed. I've been trying hard to just evaluate the moment and decide what is required of the moment... greater depth of field, subject isolation, motion, stillness, etc.

    If there's anything that I don't do enough of, is shooting from unconventional angles...like on the ground, down from a ladder or high place, or other unusual angles.

  • Saralonde June 1, 2007 05:31 am

    Makes me think of my obsession with the Canon 100mm macro and flowers...

  • Jeremy Hall June 1, 2007 04:44 am

    I fully admit to getting into ruts of doing the same thing. I find it a good habit to review the photos I have taken recently and do a little self critique.

    One of my favorite things I do, though less often than I would like, is to take simple "photo walks" with specific goals in mind. For example if I feel like I haven't done any good macro work in awhile, I will head out to a location with that purpose. If it is people, then some street walking is in order. The practice on a specific area I have been overlooking contributes directly to how I approach my "regular" photography after that.

    Plus, if you have done a photo walk yourself, you know how much fun that dedicated time to your craft is!

  • Michelle Potter June 1, 2007 02:24 am

    I just wanted to say thanks for the "10 Ways to Add Variety to Your Digital Photography" (linked in above article). I'm printing that one out to have with me when I'm wondering how to make a short more interesting. :)

  • Brian Auer June 1, 2007 01:47 am

    I've been doing a lot of macro photography since I got my 105mm macro lens -- particularly of flowers. Though I think I feel myself drifting toward super-wide angle shots lately.

  • Bob June 1, 2007 01:23 am

    Macro photos. I find it to be something I both like and feel I'm good at. I should take more photos of people, though, and work on that aspect, as I've been told by my wife it's not my strong suit (don't worry, I appreciate her honesty).

  • jay June 1, 2007 01:02 am

    If your shooting the same subject many times, what could improve is shooting with same aperture and other settings but changing the subjects actions.. This could lead to a very nice digital collage

  • Hitesh Sawlani June 1, 2007 01:00 am

    I have a tendency to photograph one subject in particular whenever I come across it.. Starbucks!

    85 and counting...!
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/hitkaiser/tags/starbucks

    I don't believe sticking to one aspect is such a bad thing, especially for most of us on this site since we are still trying to figure out what we are good at and what we really like. By going through these obsession patches we are giving full concentration to a particular area which will probably benefit from the constant attention.

  • mike June 1, 2007 12:32 am

    I have been shooting for such a short time that I dont think I've had one of those patches! I shoot on ISO100 whenever I can, and I like a big apperture, but I do vary according with the situation