February 27, 2013

Motivation and Inspiration to Photograph

Full moon on 2013/02/25

What do you do when all of a sudden you find yourself NOT wanting to photograph? Maybe due to lack of motivation or inspiration. I think we all experience this stage and it's not just in photography, it happens in all walks of life. Here are a few suggestions that could perhaps bring back the motivation and inspiration to keep on shooting and wake up that creative side that we have in us.

1. Take an art lesson, a Photoshop course or any photography related course/program/workshop. As of this writing I'm doing the Email School of Photography of Ming Thein. It's not because I lost motivation or inspiration, I'm doing it for a different purpose but taking a photography or art class is something that I think can get you back in track. A class or workshop will have assignments or exercises and this will force you to photograph.

2. Try a different style. Some prefer to stick with their own style and this is totally fine. However, when trying a different style it leads to challenges and sometimes this is exactly what is needed in order to get us photographing again. There are many different styles to try: macro, wild life, street photography, portraiture, food photography and so on. You might end up not liking the style you tried but that's fine. The goal is to get back on track and if you end up liking it then it's a plus. Look at it this way, knowing more is good.

3. Buy or borrow a photography book. Looking at the work of other photographers, specially knowing a little more about how a specific or a few photographs were created can provide a boost or the inspiration. Sometimes we just need to see it. You can also just try searching in the web as most famous and renowned photographers have their own websites. Perhaps that all you need. I must say though that books provide a little extra and more often than not there's a more personal taste or flavour from the author.

4. Join a photography club/group or get a shooting buddy. Check your community center, ask friends or simply search groups on Flickr, Facebook or Google+. For me it was Flickr and I found several groups. Most likely you'll find something in your area. Most major cities have a Flickr group formed and it is likely the group meets regularly. This has another benefit because it will allow you to meet other people that shares the same interest. Who knows, you might end up meeting your other half through a Flickr meet up. I know couples who met through Flickr. Chances are, if you know someone who shares the same interest, they will end up encouraging you when your motivation or inspiration to photograph is down.

5. Try shooting RAW instead of just JPG. RAW files provide much more flexibility in terms of editing. When you shoot JPG only and you severely underexposed or overexposed it is most likely unrecoverable. If you have the RAW file you might just be amazed with what you can do to a severely under or over exposed image. The Dynamic Range of most cameras nowadays are also very good. Once you discover the difference of working with RAW files vs JPGs it might open up your creative mind.

6. Try shooting film. This might be a little hard but could be rewarding. Hard because you might not have a film camera to begin with and there are associated costs to the development of film. Shooting film is a totally different experience from digital. You may or may not like it but I can tell you this. The people I know that shoot film still shoots film and prefers quite a lot of the characteristics of film over digital. Most of them knows how to develop their own film (specially BW). Sometimes it could be an eye opener too because with film you cannot chimp and taking another shot of exactly the same subject/scene means a wasted frame and you only have a few before you have to reload.

7. Borrow a different kind of camera or lens. If you can borrow a lens or a camera then why not. Try a rangefinder if you haven't, a DSLR, mirrorless or even a point and shoot. Or maybe even Medium or Large Format. Although, it might be hard to find someone who will allow you to let them use their equipment but it's not far fetched. For example, when I join photography meetups or photo walks a common theme is to bring other equipment. Some will allow you to play with their cameras and this brings me to lenses. It's more likely that someone you hardly know will allow you to use their lens than their camera on a photo walk. I've tried different kinds of lenses on my camera during photo walks, all I needed to do was ask and ask nicely and politely by the way and make sure you handle it very well. I've also borrowed lenses from friends and used them for weeks. It might prove interesting if you're only used to specific focal lengths. For example, if you are most comfortable with a 35mm field of view then try 28mm or 50mm. It will also allow you to learn how to see in different focal lengths which is quite important.

8. Rest, relax, take a break. Maybe you are just exhausted and need a little break from things. It is hard to work when we are tired and much more easy to focus if we are well rested and energized. Brain functions tend to diminish too when we are mentally and physically tired. Take a day or two off from your usual or normal routine or perhaps take a walk, hike or go to the beach. Anything that would free your mind would be great.

The reality is this happens. We all lose motivation or inspiration and some might say it is a cycle, I tend to agree. So if you find yourself in this situation and not wanting to photograph one or more of the above might just do the trick.

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