From time to time we all find ourselves struggling to work up enthusiasm for our photography. Part of us thinks we really should go and shoot something but a bigger part just can’t be bothered. That voice in our head will be asking what’s the point, my voice of doubt often says that I’ve shot flowers/still life/a location before so why do it again. But for most of us we simply can’t imagine not taking photographs, it’s something that defines us so when we lose our mojo it can be a really worrying time.
In this post I’m sharing my top ten tips to help get your motivation back, most of them I’ve used at some time or other and some are things I do regularly even if I’m not feeling stuck in a rut.
1 – Take a walk, leave your camera at home…
Yes really, go out for a walk in the sort of place that inspires you, it might be a city, a beach or in the countryside, doesn’t matter as long as it’s the sort of place that really makes you happy. Make sure it’s somewhere you can easily revisit and leave your camera behind. I’ve no doubt that the voice in your head will be telling you to take your camera “just in case” but when you’re in a rut leaving it behind can take off the pressure to create. I do this often when I’m feeling a bit stuck and I can guarantee that when I don’t have my camera I’ll see so many perfect photo opportunities that I’ll go home feeling full of inspiration. And if this one doesn’t work for you at least you’ll had got some fresh air and exercise!
2. Browse through some photography or art books…
This is another one that never fails to leave me feeling inspired. There’s nothing like setting aside a little time and randomly selecting books to browse. It doesn’t need to be Photography books, you may find inspiration in art or cookery books. And if you do choose photography books to browse look beyond your usual genres, if you’re a portrait photographer why not look at some landscapes, you may never intend to shoot them but they can still give that spark of inspiration that you need to get back to shooting your portraits. Don’t have many books of your own? Why not go and lurk in a bookshop, you are likely to discover something new and inspirational.
3. Plan a photo outing with a creative friend…
Even if your friends aren’t photographers you can arrange to meet up and shoot with phones. This isn’t so much about the photographs you’ll take but more about spending time in the company of another creative, it’s always a good way to feel uplifted and inspired.
An unexpected photo opportunity on a walk with one of my creative friends.
4. Shoot with a lens you don’t normally use…
I’m sure most of us will admit to having at least one lens that for whatever reason we just don’t use. Dig it out, brush off the dust and stick it on the camera. Now it’s time to start thinking, what it is it about that lens that keeps you from using it? How can you use that lens to shoot something new/different/interesting?
5. Visit an exhibition or gallery….
A photography exhibition would be perfect, there’s nothing like wandering through a curated collection of powerful images to make you want to pick up your own camera and shot. If you aren’t fortunate enough to have an accessible photo exhibition why not visit an art gallery instead, there’s lots of inspiration to be gained from studying other types of art and seeing how light, colour, texture, composition etc are being used by other creatives.
6. Take your camera and visit somewhere new…
Now I know your first thought will be “but there’s nowhere photogenic near me”. It doesn’t matter. Just go somewhere you haven’t been and search for something to shoot, it might just be the way the light casts a shadow, or a small detail you might normally walk by, I guarantee if you look closely enough you’ll find something.
Visiting somewhere new and not very photogenic, I was drawn to the way the reflections blended the outside and inside.
7. Learn a new editing technique…
YouTube is your friend here, have a search for some editing techniques you haven’t tried before and experiment with some of the images from your archives. Maybe you’ll end up with something you love and want to use more often, maybe you won’t discover anything you enjoy doing but taking a different creative approach to your images may just trigger that urge to start shooting again.
8. Shoot a mini project or theme….
A few ideas to get you started – lines, shapes, a specific colour, doorways, windows, shadows, 10 different images of the same subject. View the images as a set rather than individual pictures, share them as a collage or in a blog post rather as single images on social media.
9. Plan a long term personal project…
Having something that you will shoot over months, or maybe even years, will give you a reason to pick up your camera when you feel less inspired. Grab a notebook and see if you can come up with ten possible ideas for projects, then pick one or two that really excite you and start to plan out how you could approach them. Then start on just one.
10. Shoot something different….
Try a genre you don’t normally shoot, or maybe a different way of approaching something you normally photograph. If you are a landscape photographer who shoots wide views why not try using a longer zoom and just shooting parts of the landscape. Or if you shoot studio portraits why not head out and try some environmental portraits instead. If you like to shoot flowers in gardens how about searching out other elements of gardens to shoot. Or maybe a creative camera technique such as ICM or double exposures.
A recent experiment with in camera double exposures, a new technique to me and one I want to explore more.
Do you have any techniques that you use to kick start your creativity when you feel in a bit of a slump?
If you know someone who needs help to find their mojo please send them this post!