Staying motivated is a struggle that befalls virtually every photographer at some point (probably multiple points) in your creative life. This struggle is indifferent to what kind of photography you’re doing — street, portrait, wedding, pet — though professional photographers may feel the crunch a bit more intensely due to the fact that clients and deadlines are involved and you never want to disappoint anyone.
So what do you do when you simply can’t seem to muster the motivation to get any meaningful photography done? Put one or more of the following five tips to use.
Shoot With A Theme In Mind
Sometimes a lack of motivation can be cured by narrowing your ideas and bringing your work into better focus. In short, give yourself a theme to work with. You might shoot a series of textures, colors, reflections, frames/sub-frames, double exposures (on film) or shadows, for example.
Focusing on a very specific task can help you see familiar things in new ways, allowing you to ultimately regain your creative momentum.
Shoot A New Subject
Finding a new subject to photograph can be liberating. When you’ve become accustomed to — and, perhaps, jaded by — seeing and shooting the same thing all the time, it’s easy to lose your motivation. You can begin to feel confined by what you’re doing.
Turning your attention to a subject that is significantly different than your usual fare might be exactly what you need to reignite your creative drive.
Develop A New Skill
The impact of developing a new skill is similar to that of finding a new subject. Exposing yourself to novel situations has a tendency to open up creative pathways.
Something you should never do is allow yourself to think you’ve got it all figured out — even if you’re an expert in your particular field, there’s always something else to learn. Have you ever shot long exposures? Macro? Action/sports? Each of these requires a distinct methodology and can be a valuable addition to your overall photography skill set.
At the very least, you’ll likely find the spark you need to get back to shooting with enthusiasm.
Try New Gear
To be sure, gear acquisition syndrome can be a problem. I’m largely in favor of sticking with gear you’re comfortable with for the long haul, as familiarity makes the photo making process much more efficient.
However, there are times when you may grow legitimately bored with your gear. The byproduct of boredom is, you guessed it, a loss of motivation.
Enter new gear. Bear in mind, though, that “new” can simply mean “new to you.” You don’t have to spend a lot of money (there’s plenty of used gear to be had ) or any money at all (you may be able to make a trade with someone who is in a similar situation).
Collaborate With Other Photographers
Inspiration and motivation go hand-in-hand. When you find yourself lacking motivation, you might need a shot of inspiration.
There are numerous sources of inspiration at the ready — books, blogs, photo sharing sites. But perhaps the most valuable resource is another photographer.
Nothing beats real life interactions with other creatives. You can exchange ideas, share experiences and get a live view of their creative process/workflow.
Odds are you will come away feeling inspired and, thus, motivated to get back to your own work.
It would be great if being motivated was a permanent state; unfortunately, it’s not. It takes effort to stay motivated, and when you lose it, even more effort to regain it. Hopefully, the ideas presented here will help you recover if you’re currently experiencing a loss of motivation. And if you’re not, maybe tuck this away for future reference.
Love your column. Learned a lot from it. But will you ever offer a new camera craft sheet?