I have a colleague and friend who is a photographer. A brilliant photographer I have to say, with the ability to come up with the most incredible ideas and being able to deliver her projects with some amazing results. I am very privilege to have been given the opportunity to work more closely with her those past few weeks. But even though a lot of people I know are envying her talent, she is struggling with the same problem that many photographers, including myself, are struggling with: trying to make too many rational decisions about her pictures and projects.
Here is the deal; at any given time, you can either learn new things or you use what you already know. As a photographer you should go back and forth between these two possibilities. When you play around with your iPhone at a party, or walking around with your camera aimlessly in the streets of New York, there's no pressure and everything you create in those moments are solely yours. Those are the ideal times to learn new things and to create. On the other hand, when you are on assignment or shooting for a project, you assess all the knowledge you've gained until then and try to implement it.
Thousands of years ago, when almost everything around us was out to kill us (kinda like Australia these days) we had to be able to react instantly to know when to fight and when to flee. Thinking "Well, this DOES have huge teeth, but maybe he's just passing by and doesn't look THAT hungry", would most certainly have got you killed. In our modern days, we don't have to worry about everything trying to kill us anymore (unless you're Australian of course) but we kept that ability to instantly FEEL what's right by accessing our subconscious. And whenever an artist like my friend becomes too aware of every step she takes, wondering if it is the right one, she'll suffocate her most valuable asset - gut feeling.
By following those gut feelings, your mind will subconsciously know what to do and instinctively connect the dots in your head a hundred times quicker than if you would try to make "rational" decisions. “Photography and art aint rational”. It's not about logic. It's about feelings. Trying to make concrete decisions about every photograph you snap is like deciding whom to fall in love with.
The next time you find yourself thinking "Maybe this is not the right way to shoot this?" or "Maybe I don't have the skills I need to do this", remember that you either have all the skills you need or you don't. If you do, no reason to sweat it just let it come and press that button. If you don't have the skills you need, you're not going to be able to obtain them now so you could as well work with what you have and enjoy the result anyhow.
Keep up the awesome work, M. Remember: scientists think - photographers feel.