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6 Ways to Expand Your Comfort Zone and Do Better Photography

This guest article by Katrina Kennedy is a subject that is close to my heart and one I believe whole-heartedly. That in order to grow as a photographer or a person, you need to step out of your comfort zone. As soon as you do new things and push yourself you'll be on the road to doing better photography. Enjoy! – Darlene

Have you found a nice comfortable spot for your photography? Are you stuck in your comfort zone or are you in a rut? Do you want to do better photography?

Do you long to be more creative? More interesting? Just do things differently than you have been?

We all get there. That spot where we must do the work to push our game forward. No matter where you are in your photography journey, getting to the next level means YOU have to face your personal boundaries.

It takes effort and persistence. It takes time to push your limits. You must have the courage to expand your creativity. You have to ignore the voices in your head beckoning you to go back your comfort zone.

Daniel Pink, in his book DRIVE, describes a place of productive discomfort that we all have to push ourselves to. “If you’re too comfortable, you’re not productive. And if you’re too uncomfortable, you’re not productive.”

Do Better Photography - get outside your comfort zone

That push can lead you to photography breakthroughs. Moments when you begin to see the world differently. We are in search of that spot psychologists call “optimal anxiety.”

Just how do you get out of your comfort zone? How do you move your creativity forward and find your optimal anxiety? It takes work, but it’s worth it. Here are a few ideas to get you started and help you move toward that and better photography.

#1 Get out of your routine

Want something different? Then you’ve got to DO something different. Want to do better photography? Then you need to shoot differently.

Think about your habits. Think about when and what you photograph. Try a different style. Shoot with a different lens. Go out and shoot at a different time of day.

Or try using only one lens for a week. Do you always use your 24-70mm lens? Change it up and just shoot with a 50mm or a 28mm for a week (or longer if you dare). See how it changes how you see things and how you photograph.

Do the opposite of whatever you have been doing.

Do Better Photography - get outside your comfort zone

#2 Consider everything a subject

EVERYTHING you see has potential to become a photograph. Even the most mundane things, the typical and the overlooked.

Do Better Photography - get outside your comfort zone

Think about the things you cherish most in your life, the things you would miss if they weren’t there. Photograph them. And then do it again. You will see them differently. The light will be different. The day will be different. You will be different.

Taking everyday photographs requires you to slow down and notice things you may otherwise miss. You must let go of control when you focus on the everyday. It helps you to begin to see details, texture, color, and patterns. The more you begin to look, the more you will find.

Set comparison aside. Focus on light and feeling. Let your subjects guide you. Some days your photos will be snapped with only a little thought and some days may be orchestrated and arranged. Both are okay.

Do Better Photography - get outside your comfort zone

#3 Play

Explore. Play. Experiment.

Shoot with childlike curiosity. Think “What happens if…” then do it.

Photograph for the pure fun of it.

Do Better Photography - get outside your comfort zone

When you play with your photography you will discover how things work. It's the easiest way to increase your understanding of the buttons and dials on your camera.

Move through your shutter speeds or the apertures. Use a tripod or leave it behind. Go somewhere you’ve never been before. Photograph something you wouldn’t normally bother with or even notice.

Shoot from the hip or throw your camera in the air (with a little caution there). Play with light.

Photograph something odd or strange that you would normally overlook.

Do Better Photography - get outside your comfort zone

#4 Look for another perspective

There's more than one way to see a subject placed in front of your camera. When luck is on your side, a subject presents itself exactly as it needs to be photographed. You see the light, the composition, the details all align and shout, “photograph me.” You aren’t always so lucky.

Do Better Photography - get outside your comfort zone

Shoot from eye level. Shoot from above. Get down and photograph from below the subject. Take one step to the right and one step to the left. See your subject in a way that you haven't before. Fill your frame with the subject. And then focus on just a tiny segment.

Walk closer. Back up. Shift the subject. Shift your feet.

Pick one subject and see how many ways you can photograph it.

It’s through discovery, practice, and trial and error that you create. Consider that there is always more than one way to see your subject.

#5 Take on a personal project

Do Better Photography - get outside your comfort zone

Personal projects help move our photography forward. We learn something about our relationship with our camera as we learn something about ourselves.

Your personal project can happen over a few hours, days, or weeks. It can include five photos or 365. Create a project with a specific goal in mind. Write it down, and give it parameters.

Setting limitations can actually help you push your boundaries! Think about creating rules to guide your photography. Create parameters and rules you’ve got to shoot within. Quantify the project and give it a deadline. You can only shoot three photos of something, for example.

  • Make 10 (or 20 or 100) portraits of people you don’t know.
  • Shoot the same item over time (different times of the day, different seasons).
  • Create a collection of hearts, leaves, or faces. Look for that thing everywhere.
  • Start a 365 project (take one photo a day for a year).

Make the project your own. Set a date to complete it and a method to share your project with others.

Do Better Photography - get outside your comfort zone

#6 Do the work. Even when you don’t want to.

You’ve got to do the work if you want to improve your photography. Pick up your camera more often. Practice more. Carry it everywhere.

Pick one thing to work on. Practice that A LOT, then move onto the next thing.

There is no shortcut for moving out of our comfort zone that doesn’t pass right through doing the work. On the other side of your creative rut is an opportunity for doing better photography. It will be worth it.

Have you tried any of these ideas? What others do you have to shake up your comfort zone and try new things?


signature of the photographer, Katrina Kennedy

Katrina Kennedy, founder of has taken a photo a day for the last nine years. She is passionate about documenting the everyday moments of her life. Katrina has helped thousands of people improve their photography at CaptureYour365 through classes and daily photo prompts. You can see her on Instagram as CaptureYour365 or herself, Katrina Kennedy.

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  • Monica Luke Moriak

    Definitely some good advice. My favorite is trying a different perspective.

  • Rhadonda Sedgwick

    I am one of those thousands that Katrina has helped to improve their photography!! She is awesome!! Such great tips and ideas. I may even try throwing my camera in the air (with caution of course). Great read!

  • Cyndi Alder

    Great article. So many useful tips to push you in your photography! Thanks Katrina!!

  • Debra

    Lots of great advice from a great photographer! I really like #4 Change your Perspective. It really helps in getting more interesting photos.

  • Annie B

    Katrina Kennedy has taught me so much about my photography and I continue to learn more everyday, love this article with more very useful tips!

  • Jackie Lofthouse

    I know that I have really improved by taking a photo every day. Sometimes I feel stuck though. I am going to try some of the other suggestions you have made. Great article.

  • Mike Hayes

    Thanks, I neede that!

  • Larry R. Miller

    We have a new adventure, at 77 and 73, ahead of us. We’ve decided to move back into our motorhome and hit the road again, only in a different way. I had planned to use the next year as my personal project on documenting the change from stationary organic gardeners to a couple of gypsies looking for a place to get someone else’s dirt under their fingernails. I hope to be able to give insight to others, no matter their age, who yearn to do the same. And, a picture really is worth a thousand word. Katrina’s article has reaffirmed my project. Thank you so much Katrina and DPL.

  • Irene Dunne

    I found this article extremely helpful. I am a member of Katrina’s CY365 group and now I see the world around me in a totally different way. Loved reading all the tips and I am planning on working on at least a couple (at a time). Not ready to throw my camera up in the air just yet LOL.

  • Mick Miller

    To get out of my comfort zone by posting a photo I hope to make more of a commitment to a photo goal I made this year to go over my sister-in-laws and do production photography of her crafts work. The 1st photo is of these green beaded earrings which I post processed in LR 5 which after many years of not working w/RAW files & doing them in LR 5 (still learning). After all these years I’m still learning to not take life so serious & remember to laugh at life’s challenges. I went over to her place once when I really wasn’t in the mood & it felt good to make myself do it that day when she said just have fun with it. The next photo of the half moon in the clouds, well I was sitting in the side yard and I saw the moon in the clouds. Knew I had to get a photo of it, but knew I had to go on the computer to look up a You Tube video about photography setting for moon shots, use my Nikon FX 70-300mm lens on my DX camera zoom out to 300mm which I think on my DX Nikon would be 450mm. Put my single focus point on the craters near the top next to the dark side of the moon, When I looked at the photo I flipped it upside down & tried a different size than I normally do. Katrina, thanks 4 the article it’s times like this I make myself grow…

  • Helen Hall

    Seeking some advice – My son is demolishing his old house in 2 weeks. I would like to take some photos for him. I do like to tell a story with my photos. I have a Nikon 5200 with kit lens. I have only used auto. Any advise would be appreciated. kind regards Helen

    • Hi Helen – great idea. I would suggest this:

      1 – take photos at different times of the day including sunrise, midday, and sunset. It will add variety
      2 – take a variety of shots from wide-angle (get close) mid-range, and far away with a long lens.
      3 – get overall scene shots and close-ups of details

      Focus on compositing good images and let the camera handle exposure for you. Hope that helps.

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