How creative projects make me a better photographer

Dancer and Chinese musician, Hong Kong
17 October 2017

Most of my time as a Hong Kong-based professional photographer is spent photographing weddings, events and portraits. That keeps me pretty busy, but when I get some downtime I’m much more likely to be out shooting a creative project of my own than sitting at home watching TV.  Here are six reasons why I feel these self-led, creative projects make me a better all-round photographer. 

Cool dancer, graffiti, Ali G Studios, Hong Kong

They keep me active in the quiet times

Every now and again, you’re going to find yourself with a lighter workflow as a professional photographer. While I sometimes wish I could just put my feet up and wait for the next big assignment, I find that particularly difficult. If I’m not working on something, I get a twitchy shutter finger very quickly. Having something to focus my attention on keeps me active, inspired and practicing my art, even when I’m not getting paid.

Dancer jumping, Ali G Studios, Hong Kong

They move my mind away from the technical

Photographers can sometimes find themselves getting very bogged down in the technical side of their work. The aperture, the shutter speed, the ISO, not to mention the hours spent in post production and processing after a shoot. With my creative projects, I like to ease up on these aspects of photography and focus more on experimentation and what feels right in the moment. While I may not get the best results every single time, I always learn something new, and being more free with my thinking helps develop my artistic vision.

Polynesian dancer by waterfall, Ali G Studios

They remind me that photography is my passion as well as my job

I love my job. Full stop. Whether I’m photographing weddings and events or doing corporate headshots, there’s never a day that I feel my work is dull. That said, when you make your passion your livelihood, it’s all too easy to forget about it in your free time. Having a creative project on the go reminds me that I work in photography because I love it, not only because it pays the bills.

Dancer, Ali G Studios, Hong Kong

They allow me to stay connected with other art forms

I often photograph or collaborate with artists of some form, usually dancers, for my personal creative photography projects. This not only produces great images thanks to the amazing talents of my subjects, but it also allows me to see first-hand and close-up how other artists work. Their professionalism, creativity and vision never fail to impress and inspire me.

Woman in red dress, Ali G Studios, Hong Kong

They add to my technical and creative arsenal

Most photographers tend to specialize in one or two areas, having spent years honing their skills and techniques. We also all tend to hold ourselves and our colleagues to very high standards, letting no detail go unnoticed. One of the things I like about embarking on creative projects is that I’m producing work for myself only. This gives me permission to get out of my comfort zone and experiment in photographic fields I don’t normally tread without any consequences. Such freedom forces me to think outside the box, which in turn gifts me with more creative ideas and specialized techniques that can later be employed in my wedding or corporate shoots, for example.

Chinese opera dance, Ali G Studios, Hong Kong

They create what I hope will be the work of my legacy 

Photography by its very nature is about capturing moments, and of course every photographer hopes their work will outlive them. While wedding photos may be kept by a few generations of the same family, it’s a photographer’s creative projects that are most likely to continue to resonate with people over time. I’m proud of all the professional work I do for others under Ali G Studios, but the work I do for myself is just as important.

Spanish dancer, Ali G Studios, Hong Kong

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Ali G Studios   IG: @aligphoto   Twitter: @AliGStudios 

A big thanks to Phottix for the professional lighting equipment provided to Ali G Studios.  These photos would not have been possible without the following artists and assistants: TJ Milne, Flo Geiser, David Yang, Alex Nguema, Rakhee Shah, Ronald Junjun Lunar, Raruna Jacquot, Katia Collins, Marie Christine Jean, Heather Magee Spilka, David Spilka, Carol Ann Topaz, Natasha Moor, Sara Mush, Lucia Tam, Sandra Piriz

All photos are © Ali Ghorbani and Ali G Studios

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