Since the start of my career, I’ve subscribed to the Japanese concept of Kaizen.
The compound of two words, Kaizen, translates as “good change” or “improvement” and has come to be known as “continuous improvement”.
As a photographer, part of my continuing professional development is holding test shoots.
These test shoots are common practice among photographers as a way to get practice with different techniques, lighting setups, and poses (when working with models) without the pressure of a paying client.
Test shoots also provide a photographer opportunity to build a portfolio of work. At the same time, models taking part in test shoots gain experience and develop their portfolios.
When doing these test shoots, money rarely changes hands. Photographers and models work on a TF (time for) basis.
Both parties can try out new ideas and techniques without the pressure of delivering perfect results.
Test shoots also allow photographers to network and build relationships with other industry professionals. These relationships can be precious, as they can lead to future collaboration and paid work.
As a photographer, I know the more frequently I shoot, the better I get.
Even after shooting regularly for 22 years, I can see a notable improvement in my work when I’m shooting regularly.
In every profession, we need to sharpen our saw.
Stephen Covey coined the phrase in The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, where he writes:
Sharpen the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – you.
It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.
As we head into a New Year, I suspect many of us will be thinking about self-renewal across these critical areas of our lives.
We can become a better version of ourselves through sharpening the saw.
Along with more test shoots in 2023, I’ll be seeking creative inspiration at every turn.
What steps will you take to sharpen your saw next year?
This post was inspired by my latest test shoot, with local model Abbey, incorporating a flower crown provided by The Edge of the Florist on the same site as my studio at Smithbrook Kilns.