My years at university were some of my most enjoyable, but looking back now I really didn’t make the most of them. As a 19 year old used to formal education being disciplined and self-motivated was very difficult for me. My photography degree was not very structured and we were encouraged to develop our own style and methods of working. One thing that stuck in my mind was what my tutor called ‘therapeutic shooting.’
We have these very romantic notions of what a photographer is, someone who always has a camera on them snapping away engaging with the world, taking beautiful photos where ever they may go. Two examples of idealised photographers off the top of my head in Hollywood movies are Gwyneth Paltro in 2004s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and the recent King Kong movie where Brie Larson also plays a photographer. These roles are both very glamorised portrayals of photographers each exploring and documenting their wild adventures. In reality there are clients to keep happy, briefs to adhere to and deadlines to meet.
Therapeutic shooting is the idea that however involved in your professional work you get; you should take the time to take pictures for yourself. Have a camera along-side you and keep an eye out for those spontaneous moments. Forgetting about meaning and symbolism, just taking a picture because you love to take photos. Inspired by abstract ideas like texture, shape or colour you follow your gut instinct without any preparation; the freedom to explore as you please.
As mainly a studio photographer I don’t practise this enough, and after a long day at work it can feel nice to put the camera away. But I still feel Therapeutic shooting is important, helping to keep your passion for photography alive. And although the images aren’t intended to enter a portfolio it can filter through to inform your work. Maybe you like how the light fell through some trees and want recreate it in a fashion project. Or you like the colour pallet in an autumn scene you took which would work perfectly for your next project for example.
As phone camera quality continues to get better everyone has access to a camera which is always by your side, it’s just a case remembering what made use want to become photographers in the first place, that is to say for the love of taking pictures. I for one will be making more of an effort to venture out with my camera, using it as a great excuse to see the everyday with a fresh perspective and explore places I haven’t been. And hopefully it will inspire me to create some great artwork I’m proud to share with the world.