Photography to explore ourselves and the world


Photography is a wonderful way to both explore the world and oneself, what it means to be human on planet Earth. It is a way to go both outside and inside. The medium can address anything and everything from politics to films, books and one’s personal story. To be a good photographer, you have to stay open and naive and question the judgment and prenotions you carry. This creates humility while fostering creativity.


In this day and age with the pressure of social media platforms, there’s such a need to be perfect, especially around our identity. This makes exploring creativity even more important for our sanity. When we allow ourselves to be messy and experiment, we soften our edges and we expand our comfort zone. As children this is a natural ability, and we tend to forget or shut down this curiosity and humility as we grow older.

Our need for security and fitting in can often get in the way of our personal growth. Photography and the creative process invites you to try doing something new, make mistakes, gain experience and get to know yourself in new ways. With photography, it’s impossible to stay in your head. You might have an idea and a plan for a project or shoot, yet when you go out and try it, it turns out to be something completely different than what you had imagined.

We’re born into a landscape and a heritage, a map, a social context, that affects us on many levels. Photography is also a way to explore this and to bring consciousness to our life conditions. The image is very good at evoking, exploring and conveying feelings. But it’s not a very good storyteller on its own, except for on an abstract level.


When you shoot analog film photos, it’s a way of practicing being intuitive, cultivating delayed gratification and patience, because you have to wait to see what you’re shooting. Just like in life, we rarely get the answers straight away to our questions and processes. Which is why shooting on film or simply putting masking tape on your camera display can be great practices to strengthen your intuition. Also, when you’re photographing others, stopping constantly to look at your display interrupts the connection with your subject and can be a major distraction to your presence.

To use photography to explore relating, try photographing the 5 people closest to you. Maybe even include someone that triggers or challenges you. It could also be 5 places that matter in relation to who you are. Do try spending a day photographing yourself through self portraits and symbols as well, and you may end up with lots of new insights about yourself.


If you’re not so experienced in photography, it’s recommended to take more control of the scene in front of you. If you’re doing street photography for example, you have less control and a higher risk of confrontation, which isn’t advisable for beginners.


While shooting, you can explore different prompts on what to capture, like ‘this is me’, ‘this is my room’, ‘this is where I eat breakfast’, ‘this is where I fell in love’, etcetera. Remember that mistakes and exploring is building your intuition and your sense of who you are. Make mistakes, welcome them as experiences, and focus on enjoying your process rather than achieving the perfect results.

Photography is a great tool to discover who and what is important in your life. One way to explore this is by making a private visual diary, perhaps including mixed media and words, drawings, dried flowers, etcetera. Your imagination is your only limitation. Start with capturing yourself and your friends, and slowly this will help you (re)discover what life is about and help you build your voice as a photographer and storyteller. 


And remember, sometimes a change in perspective is refreshing, and a detail might tell more than the full overview. The more personal you get, the more global is the potential of your image. And always remember, be a human first and a photographer second, balance giving and receiving between you and who/what is in front of your lens. If you want to capture something personal, lead the way through your own vulnerability.