model in a red dress mountains

Breaking Out Of My Comfort Zone

In 2015. my aim was to experiment more while shooting my models. I became aware that in the past I had always gone for the foolproof, easier solution and that I wasn’t allowing myself much freedom because I eagerly wanted to keep mistakes on a minimum.

Needless to say that I’ve never been quite satisfied with these images and wanted them to be better, both for mine and the models’ sake.
When I shoot self portraits, I mostly keep my camera’s orientation horizontal. Shooting other people, without a tripod, has always made me unconsciously flip my camera horizontally. I have whole sets of horizontal images, focused solely on the face, which make me feel bored as I scroll through them.

Breaking out of your comfort zone isn’t easy. My decision was to take it slowly: tell my models that I’m not sure how our shoot was going to turn out and if there are going to be any worthy pictures at all. In any tutorial I see online, there is always a special emphasis on being confident: show the model you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t.
That just isn’t the way I want to shoot and, for me, it does more harm than good. I find that the best way of my creative process is to try new things, have fun, experiment. That’s the thing about fine art: nobody’s going to pay much attention to how that dress looks like. It’s not about fashion.

The models have been very understanding of my principle. They wanted the images to be beautiful in the end and it was really a matter of mutual work towards a shared goal.

fine art conceptual legs in a hollow tree
For the shoot with Zvonimira we had no clue what to do. This one, however, turned out to be one of my favourite photos in 2015. I purposely decided to ignore my urge to photograph her face and thought more about the mood the image will convey and how to best incorporate the fantastic hollow tree.


fairytale model conceptual photo
The greenhouse Alessio drove us to was gorgeous but, since he had already shot there a bunch of times before, I didn’t want my pictures to look too similar to his. Although I had no idea if it’ll work out or not, I told my model, Rebecca, to peek out of the greenhouse’s dirty glass. I’m very proud of this photo because I’ve started thinking in terms of what would I do if I were shooting self portraits here alone instead of I hope to take a good shot of the model’s face and that’s it.


blonde girl portrait in nature
Chiara was so full of understanding. I had the idea of an autumn-themed shoot with her, but the leaves were still too green when the day of the shoot arrived, so we had to find an alternative. I played with a mirror to create this photo and, although it could’ve been a complete failure, I loved the end result.


model in a red dress mountains
I loved Adi’s long blonde hair and wanted dearly to capture it in a photo. The opportunity presented itself in the most beautiful place, probably filled with hobbits somewhere. I did what I haven’t done many times: asked her to turn her back to me. The image is entitled Where The Story Begins, and really, I’m all up to imagining where it will lead her.

I wrote this post because we all get stuck in out little world of pre-coded visuals and no matter how much we might dislike some works we produce, it takes time and motivation to liberate oneself from the safety zone and try something new.
I had to consciously think not to hold my camera vertically and to include the setting around the model in the frame.

It was an entirely new experience for me: to think before pressing the shutter, instead of relying purely on the visuals.

That led me to creating better photos than the in the previous year, and especially better ones than two years ago, so it has really paid off!

How was your year? What have you learn?

photographer self portrait with cameraAbout the author
Hi! I’m Isabella and I’m a photographer, blogger and applied arts graduate. I love spending my time creatively, or watching movies, drinking tea, playing with my cats and hanging out with friends.
Find me here or on Facebook and say hello!


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