Expanding your default
Your “Default” is what you shoot, what you default to when you’re under the pressure to perform. It’s your natural “go to” when you’re in the moment, and maybe things aren’t going completely right, or things you were expecting didn’t come through. Your default is your muscle memory, and the result of how you’ve conditioned yourself to the maximum capacity of your creative capabilities. This default is WHAT you show in your portfolio. I’ve heard it said many times, you are only as good as your WORST image. Your portfolio is who you are in the game of photography. It shows what you shoot, how you shoot it, and how good you are while you’re shooting. When Art Buyers, Art Directors, and Photo Editors look at your book, they can see everything about you. They see the production value of your work, the elements you choose which conveys your tastes, they see how you direct and interact with your subjects, etc. They can read everything by looking at the images in your book.
The more you are shooting and pushing yourself on your own time, the more you are expanding your creative default. SEEING is what photography is all about. I am constantly pushing myself to see more, and that seeing more comes through starting in the production stages. How can I choose better elements to infuse into my images? Locations? Props? Models? Styling? How can I refine my taste to convey a better quality image?
Expanding your default can also translate into the realm of WHAT you shoot while still living under your creative vision and style. That is something that I am working on in my own vision. How can I diversify the content of what I’m shooting, or the style of lighting, while staying under the umbrella of MY style? How am I pushing myself to see better and more unique compositions, and better direct my subjects to add to my default? These are all things that become innate and subconscious. It’s like exercising your muscle memory to better help you problem solve and perform under the pressure of a real job without having to stress about them.
This is why art is a process, a process of learning to see. That’s why as much as we look through magazines and think “oh I could have shot that”, more than likely unless our portfolios contain that level of imagery that we are “think we could have shot”, we can’t. I remember so many times thinking that over the last few years, and now looking back I laugh because at that stage in my creative potential/default there’s no way I could have. In the same respect I look at certain images now and think the same thing, but in reality until I actually do it, I’m not there yet.
All this said, what are you doing to push your creative capabilities and expand your default?