When I first started thinking about this article, the original title was going to be “has photography become too serious?” On reflection though, I felt that was a little too negative and photography should not be negative, it should be a positive, enabling pastime.
But why did I come up with that original title? Well, to my mind, photography has become a little too serious. Now being serious is not a bad thing, it allows you to learn, allows you to progress. However when that progression negates any joy from what you are doing, it becomes a chore rather than a pleasure. Today we are going to look at some ways to put the fun back in to your photography.
Why We Need To Put The Fun Back in Photography?
Have you ever posted a photo to social media, waited for the expected, collective outpouring of praise, only to be sorely disappointed? If the answer is yes, then you are not alone. Photography these days seems to be driven by social media engagement, likes shares and follows.
Now if you are a professional, then those likes shares and follows are an important part of your marketing. However, if you are an enthusiast photographer, shooting for fun and enjoyment, then there is very little to be gained from social media.
That dopamine hit that you get from a like or share, is short lived and more importantly it does nothing for your photography. The problem is that social media is a haven of back slapping and congratulations. No-one will give you negative feedback (for negative read constructive) for the fear of receiving the same in kind.
All the while you are unashamedly positive about others work, they will be the same to you. That’s not a healthy environment in which to learn or progress. It leads an inflated belief in your own abilities and an increasing intolerance to others that might constructively criticise your images.
Note: for constructive criticism in a friendly environment, see our own Shark Tank.
So what can we do to make photography more fun?
Shoot For Yourself Not For Others
This says it all. Your photography should be about pleasing yourself, pushing your own creativity creating dopamine hits from seeing something good that you created, not from likes on a social media platform.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t post to social media, but when you do, do it because you are proud of what you have shot and not because you want social engagement. You should also not be intimidated by other people’s work on social media. If you see images that you like, be inspired by them, look at them in depth and analyse them. If you are suitably intrigued, asked the photographer how they achieved that result. Most will reply and that engagement will be a positive thing.
When you are out shooting look for subjects that you enjoy, however mundane they might seem. Creativity will come from the things you enjoy not from shooting for an audience.
Involve Friends and Family In Your Photography
By this, I don’t necessarily mean take portraits of them all the time. If you have friends and family like mine, they are probably very camera shy and very reluctant models.
Rather get them involved in what you are shooting, perhaps let them use your camera to capture something you are shooting. Many of our non photographic peers, do not understand our obsession with photography so why not let them into your world a little bit.
This engagement can be fun for all parties and it will stimulate your creativity. Who knows it may even spark an interest in photography amongst your friends. Teaching photography like this is a great way to put back the passion.
Use An Old Digital Or Film Camera
We have come a long way since the first digital cameras. If you have an old one lying around, pick it up and go and shoot with it. Just getting to grips with an older camera can be fun, a relearning process that will challenge you. Slow inaccurate autofocus, dodgy exposure metering, reds that blow out. Using an old camera will slow you down, make you think about the technical aspects of photography much more.
This is even more so with an old film camera. It’s still easy to buy and develop film. However it’s not cheap so you will need to make every frame count. And guess what? You won’t be able to see the results for days, perhaps even weeks.
There is a real satisfaction and indeed sense of achievement when that package of negatives does finally drop in to your postbox. You will be excited to look at how well, or even how badly you nailed those shots. It’s a sense of anticipation that we sorely miss in modern photography.
Have Random Photography Days
I am a big believer in what I like to call holistic photography. That is to go out with a camera, on a whim, with no fixed place to go, and no fixed ideas in your mind. Literally you drive or jump on a bus/train and travel until you find a place you want to shoot. It’s a great way to keep your creativity and curiosity fresh.
There, you simply shoot what you are attracted to visually. You will be amazed at the results that you will achieve this way. Often you will take shots that are way off of your normal style, perhaps even pushing you into new unexplored genres of photography.
Photography should be fun. Think back to why you started taking pictures in the first place. It was that sense of achievement in capturing a beautiful shot. It was going out looking for amazing scene to shoot. It was probably not about satisfying anyone else. Putting the fun back into photography is really as simple as shooting for yourself. If others like the shot, then that’s a nice bonus.