Self-assign your dream assignment

(This photo is from a personal project called Isolation/identity)

I recently watched the Creativelive course taught by Penny De Los Santos. Ostensibly, the course was about food photography but it turned out to be so much more. For one thing, I learned that the elements that make a good food photo, such as light, colour and composition, are the same ones that make a good portrait. Whether you’re photographing a plate of food or a person, you want to make them look beautiful and attractive.

Penny urged photographers to practice seeing. She said it was the only way you’re going to grow as a photographer. Look at websites or magazines or blogs and ask yourself, what is it about the image that got your attention? Observe your emotional reaction to certain pictures. Art begets art. Looking at pictures is a great way to inspire yourself. The best piece of advice I heard was to self-assign your dream assignment. With the technology available to us today, you don’t need an assignment to do great work. You can create it for yourself. You can share this work on Flickr or Twitter or on a blog.

Based on the comments Penny received on her blog, it’s obvious she tapped into people’s desire for creative expression. We’re all hungry to find a vehicle to express who we are. Someone once told me there are only two questions we need to answer in life. “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?”. If we’re very lucky, we have the chance to ask and answer those questions over and over.

The last part of the course can be watched here.

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