It’s easy to let negative thoughts get in the way of your photography. You get frustrated with results not meeting expectations and start questioning whether you’re good enough. And without taking action, these thoughts can result in a self-perpetuating downward spiral of negative emotions that destroy your creativity.
But, don’t worry. This is perfectly normal.
All photographers, from beginners to experienced professionals, go through rough patches. Sometimes you just don’t feel sufficiently motivated or inspired to venture out with your camera.
In this post we’ll explore some ways to overcome these challenges so that you can stay motivated and inspired by your photography:
1. Make carrying your camera a habit
To make photography part of your daily routine you need to form new habits. We’re all busy, but by carrying your camera with you at all times, you’ll get into the rhythm of thinking about photography and taking photos. This new habit will also confirm how important photography is in your life and how it fits in with your lifestyle.
Try this: take your camera with you everywhere for a week. Look for opportunities to take photos that fit in with your daily routine i.e. commuting to work, meeting friends, nights out etc. Those “if only I had my camera” moments will become a thing of the past.
2. Forget about taking good photos
It’s good to have high expectations, but this can be disheartening when you’re not getting the results you want.
The key is to forget about the outcome and focus on enjoying the entire process leading up to the photo. Take delight in connecting with the world and hold no expectations about the final result. Savour the journey - forget about the destination.
Try this: fill up your SD card in a day without reviewing the photos on your camera. Just shoot and don’t think about the results. Review the photos only when you’re finished. There may well be some surprises in there.
3. Start a photo project
Ever walked around with you camera and said to yourself, “what am I doing?”. Yep, me too.
A small project is a great way to bring direction and focus to your photography. With a clear goal to work towards you’ll feel more motivated than if you’re taking photos with no real purpose or intent behind them.
Try this: create a mini project consisting of ten related images. Pick something you enjoy photographing, set a realistic timescale and build the series. When you’re finished share this with photography blog sites to build awareness of your work.
4. Try a different type of photography
Getting out of your comfort zone is a great way to switch up your photography and become inspired by new possibilities. Staying in your comfort zone is the easy option, but how much are you really learning by doing this?
Take portraits of a friend, try street photography in your city or take landscapes in the countryside. A different type of photography is a great way to build skills and challenge your creativity.
Try this: try a different genre of photography for one week.
5. Explore new locations
Photographing the same spots over and over is good for building up your confidence and practising skills. However, this almost certainly leaves you feeling bored or uninspired after a while.
Instead, shake things up by visiting somewhere new. Explore the possibilities in that area and enjoy the experience of seeing a place from a fresh perspective.
Try this: spend a day photographing in a new area.
6. Study other photographers
It’s never been easier to discover and view the work of other photographers. Study the masters and also look at lesser known photographers. Take ideas from their work and look for ways to bring this into your own photography.
Try this: build a list of your favourite photographers and study their work. Where possible, follow these people on social media so you generate a stream of content that will inspire you daily.
7. Look outside of photography
Looking at other photographer's work is a worthwhile exercise. However, this has the potential to obscure your creative vision if you attempt to directly emulate their photos.
Instead, seek inspiration for your photos away from photography. Immerse yourself in anything that really moves you. It could be books, movies or art - anything that gets you excited and thinking creatively. When we’re inspired we’re better mentally prepared to create our best work.
Try this: pick an interest outside of photography. Be inspired by this and go shooting.
8. Join a photography community
Becoming a part of a community is great way fill your life with a constant source of inspiration. Build relationships with people whose work you admire, and participate so you can all grow through shared experiences. Online and offline photography communities are also a great way to learn and improve through feedback on your work.
Try this: immerse yourself in a new online or offline community and actively contribute.
9. Switch up your gear
A different camera isn’t going to improve your photography, but it can stimulate your passion and imagination, and get you out of a creative rut.
If you only shoot digital, give film photography a try. If you normally use a wide-angle lens, test out a telephoto lens. You’ll be inspired by new possibilities and may even discover something that speaks to you more than what you’re currently doing.
Try this: swap cameras with a friend for a week.
10. Build or redesign your website
There’s no shortage of online services that make building a website fast and easy.
If you find yourself lacking inspiration, a new website could be just what you need. Not only can you take pride in sharing your work with family and friends, but you’ll be more motivated to keep it updated with your best work.
Try this: design a simple website displaying your favourite images. Showcase your best, leave the rest.
Ultimately, for change to occur you have to be ready for it. And once you’re prepared, with motivation and inspiration, there’s no limit to what you can achieve through your photography.