The Human Aspect…
A comfort zone can be defined quite broadly, depending the person. In the photography and video world, people from the audience standpoint don’t quite realize is that many creators are extremely introverted, shy, and other kinds of non public-light people. This is typically caused by an illusion because creators tend to be seen when they are around people, shooting events, creating portraits, and making content that is social. This although usually true, does not mean those people are comfortable doing it all the time. Many people who are photographers tend to be people that are not super social, naturally at least, and either grow to be that way or they adapt to be able to do what they love.
Upon my experience, I’m typically really awkward around people but ironically have worked in intensive customer service for 8 years, until last month. Knowing many people who are creative people, photographers, filmmakers, and creators of all sorts it is quite interesting to see that the majority, it seems like, are very introverted people who are not fans of constantly being around people. Personally, I get very anxious being around groups of more than a handful of people unless I’m constantly with one or two people by my side, at all times. Why is this important? Well, being in your comfort zone is vital, at times, because it acts as a great recuperate from when life pushes you out of it. Alternatively, it definitely is healthy to be outside of your comfort zone and push it on a regular basis because it forces you to push your limits then expand them. This is what having a camera in your hands helps you do. The camera acts as a barrier between yourself and the uncomfortable outside world around. In my case, it has greatly helped me be more social, interact with people in ways that I normally would never fathom to do so, and just push my limits to grow as a person, all around.
The Non-Human Aspect…
Comfort zone also apply to style, equipment, and many other aspects of visual storytelling. I understand the importance of finding your “niche,” and having a unique “personal style” when it comes to storytelling. Being consistent can help grow you as a person and as a business, if you are in the creative field, especially. That being said, I think unless you rely on it for you main income and you will not be okay without it, then it is a hinderance. Consistency in the creative world is basically your “comfort zone.” You do what you’re good at, what people like to see, and what your audience expects of you. That is great in some cases but from my view it is a crutch and you should always be trying to see expand and grow in one way, or another. Experimenting with different styles is a huge thing that many creatives do not do. Even if you are a master of doing something, there is always room for some kind of growth, personal, professional, etc. Whether you are always shooting portraits, landscapes, documentaries, or narrative try doing something that you do not typically do. It will give you insight and a different perspective on what you are doing. It can help you discover something new or improve the work you are currently known for, and even if you do not actually put it up in the public’s eye, I still highly encourage it.
Use gear outside of your comfort zone. For instance, I typically shoot Nikon; I love it. I am comfortable with Nikon. Does that mean I won’t gladly pick up a canon or another camera at first chance to expand my experience, knowledge, and expand my comfort zone, hell no. I would be thrilled to use something else. If not own it, then purely for the sake of being able to know that it is me creating the image and not my equipment. I have shot on canons before, I have shot on other cameras, used gear which I was not familiar with purely to expand my horizons. Currently I have my eyes on this beast. Will I get it? Yes, probably in a couple months, or sooner…ooops. Just because it is outside my comfort zone. In a different way than you may think though. It has features that are well beyond what I currently have access too and that somehow is daunting, in its own way.
The other thing I really want to get back into, is film photography. I took a whole course on it in community college and acquired a film camera, at that time. So I have a 35mm SLR laying at home with a nifty 50mm on there. That will be my next step in getting out side of my comfort zone. I want to be able to take film photos and have most of them come out decently. I have not really touched that camera in 3 years because I don’t have access to a development lab where I developed my BW prints by myself, at school. So my comfort zone is not looking into having a lab develop the prints for me. Back to the point of getting out of your cozy comfort zone… Just have to follow my own advice and that is difficult at times.