Test the Limits.

Test the Limits.

I spent roughly 9 hours working on my last image in photoshop, "Forbidden," which equates to about 2 full days sitting in a coffee shop, staring at a screen, consuming roughly 4-6 cups of coffee elapsed. Over half of that editing time was completely worthless, and I couldn't be happier about it. 

time-lapse of the shoot, and a speed-edit video to some sweet tunes: 

When HOURS of Editing Just Doesn't Work...

Image with the apples - too busy, and detracts from the concept. 

Image with the apples - too busy, and detracts from the concept. 

I'm sure you can all identify with those times when you just spend hours and days and even weeks or months on a photo that just didn't come out the way you wanted. A photo that falls short of your vision. A photo that just didn't work out. In those times of struggle, I URGE you, TEST THE LIMITS. Go to one extreme, then the other. Try the simple, try the complex, try everything in between.

You'll never know what you can create if you don't try to create everything that inspires you. 

When I was compiling the video above, I chopped roughly 60% of the speed-editing portion completely out. You probably noticed at this point that the photo does NOT contain a funky-looking-but-well-meaning cluster of apples surrounding the main prop, a large tree trunk. I took those composites out for a couple of different reasons:

I) They just didn't work. The editing didn't look "realistic-surreal" enough, one of the non-negotiable qualities I look for in a completed image that I upload (I have a patent on that adjective, btw)
B) It didn't fit the concept in my head after all.
Tres) I like simplicity so much it actually physically hurts me sometimes.  I might bag on minimalism and minimalist photographers, but I think I'd actually classify myself as one of those guys about 90% of the time. #vscominimalfolkmagazinewhite

 

Here are some photos that I created during my 365 that just didn't come out how I wanted, even after hours of editing - all images where I feel I didn't test my limits - in editing, shooting, and even conceptualizing:

Also, maybe I just don't like the color green in my photos.... Hmmmm.....

"Hmm, not too sure about them apples, dude..."

"Hmm, not too sure about them apples, dude..."

The good news here? Your vision grows with repeated practice. The distance between what you see in your head and what you see on your Flickr upload or web portfolio grows smaller --  the trick is to continually create work - something I'm just now beginning to put in to practice again by challenging myself to create a new photo for each letter of the alphabet every week. 

My recommendation for all artists everywhere is to be on some sort of time based creative project at any given time. It helps us create, it gives us parameters to pursue our craft, and it keeps us constantly thinking from a creative frame of mind. Above that, though, my recommendation for anyone, even in life, is to TEST THE LIMITS. Go beyond what you think you're capable of: in editing, at work, at school, at the gym, in your craft, in the way you prepare your meals, on your run, bike ride, coffee consumption.... well, maybe not on the last one. You get the idea. Don't get bummed out when it doesn't come out the way you want it to. If you don't always like what you're creating, it means you've got good taste, and you're working towards something better every single day you decide to make something new. You're on the right track. :-) 

 
Find little ways to test your limits and you'll start to see yourself testing the limits and growing in ways you never imagined.
 

Want to learn how to create awesome conceptual images that truly speak? Join me in Brazil, Italy, Japan, Vietnam, India, and Australia for the Create From Your Heart Workshop Tour and start creating images from your heart, not from a screen. Sign up here. 

I'm on a mission to show that the light will always pierce through the darkness.