Stop Before You Shoot

Probably, if you are reading this, you are a practicing photographer. But have you stopped to ask yourself whyyou take photographs? Certainly, there are some things in life you just accept – like the goodness of a hot fudge mocha sundae or an early June evening on your friend's back porch – you love them just because. But, as one who has had a bit of experience with the camera, I have a few bits of advice that might help you get to the heart of your interest and hopefully help you produce a more advanced body of work.

First thing is first: question, question, question your world – and your motivation to photograph. Why do you prefer the camera to the paintbrush? What is the main point of your work – to suggest a political commentary, create an abstraction, immortalize a fleeting moment? It is okay to have varied interests, but eventually you should see a dominant style emerge, especially if you consistently shoot.

Second: write as much as you can – about everything. Much like a diary helps sort out thoughts at the end of the day, a photography log or journal can sharpen your purpose and help build a tighter portfolio.

Third, and most importantly: you must practice. Take your camera everywhere. Oftentimes I find the most striking images on my walk to work. Once you begin questioning, writing, and consistently exercising (taking photographs), you are surely on the path to a stronger, more unified portfolio.

About The Author: Everest Knobel graduated in 2003 with a BA in Art from Furman University. She is an intern at Aperture Foundation in New York City.