Life lessons through art: Photography

(Photo: Caitlin Dutt/AQ)

First, I want to say that I don’t consider myself an “artist.” I’m passionate about photography, which I consider to be an art form, but I don’t think I have put nearly enough time into it yet to call my photos “art.”

That being said, I do consider myself a creator. There are few feelings in this world that I can compare to putting a photo together. From the moment I bring the camera to my eye to the moment when I post it to Instagram, very few experiences are as rewarding to me.

I have learned a lot through photography. Not just about the medium, but about life in general. I thought I would take a moment and share some of those lessons.


No day is ever all bad

One of my favourite photos was taken on one of my least favourite days. I had met a girl on Tinder who was also into photography, specifically of airplanes. I thought that sounded interesting, so I agreed to go on a date/photoshoot with her at the Halifax airport.

This photo was taken on my all time worst Tinder date, which goes to show that good things can come from bad times. (Photo: William Cumming/AQ)

I drove for 45 minutes to meet her, and after some awkward chit chat we just sat in silence in her car, because she was too shy to respond. After about an hour of sitting with occasional breaks to take photos, I suggested we could go grab a bite to eat. Her response was, “no thanks, I’m not hungry. Besides, there’s a plane coming in I really want to get a photo of.”

When I asked when said plane was coming in, she told me it should be there in about three hours. I probably should have bailed then, but I felt bad, so I sat in silence with this girl for another three hours, but I got a great shot out of it, so I can’t be too upset.

That Tinder date taught me that you can always find something to be happy about on a bad day, especially when you are doing something that you love.


Think different

That’s more than just an Apple slogan from the 90s, it’s a rule of thumb for photographers. So many people shoot the same thing over and over, that when you’re faced with the same subject you have two options: blend in or stand out.

Thinking differently can lead to original work that makes you stand out from a crowd. (William Cumming/AQ)

I am always looking for a different angle when I am out shooting, and that’s bled into my other work as well. Photography has boosted my critical thinking, but you don’t need to be a creator to give develop these skills. The next time you are faced with a task you know has been done before, just try and find a way to add your own spin to it. Sometimes it won’t work out, but when it does it will stand head and shoulders above the competition.

And that leads me to my next point:


Don’t settle for less when you can do more

When you are working on a project, whether it is a photograph, term paper or work assignment, always give it your all. If I am not 100 per cent satisfied with one of my photos then it will never see the light of day, especially if it is a photo I took for someone else.

If someone is going to hire you then they are going to look at past examples of your work, and if you have put something out that doesn’t meet your standards then how will they know what you can do?

Take it from me. I went through a purge of my Instagram this summer, then used it as a résumé to get a job as a wedding photographer’s assistant. That also shows the importance of having an online portfolio of your work, so that people can find you.

Always put your best work out, especially when you are doing that work for someone else. (Photo: William Cumming/AQ)

There are countless other lessons I have learned behind the camera, and I know there is more to come, but hopefully these few will give you some advice you can use in your own life. The only other advice I have is simple: if you aren’t in love with what you are doing then you should be doing something else.

Life lessons through art is a new series. Any artists who have learned something through their medium are encouraged to contact [email protected] for a chance to be featured.