How many times have you found yourself unable to get out of a creative rut with your photography? There are things that you can do to get your photo mojo back if it has been up and left, closed the door behind it, and slammed it in your face. It has taken place in my life.
Recently, it has been challenging for me to get outside and shoot photographs. I took the photo you see above a little over a month ago. Since then, I have hardly used my camera at all outside of the context of fulfilling the requests of my clients’ commissions.
Motivation and inspiration are the two things that stand between us and our creative potential. It is certain that we will not be motivated to shoot photographs if we do not have sufficient motivation. On the other hand, even if we are inspired to go out with our cameras, we can be at a loss as to what we should photograph, let alone how we should shoot it. This lack of inspiration can then lead to us losing our motivation, which in turn can lead to a vicious cycle. Because of this, the two are inextricably tied to one another, creating a vicious loop.
I engage in a variety of activities in order to motivate and inspire myself. They are not original creations of mine, but rather my interpretation of tried and tested methods that I have reworked to be applicable to photography. Since the individuals I have shared them with in the past have discovered their usefulness, my hope is that you will as well.
This deficiency of drive and inspiration can be present in any creative endeavor. In addition to photographing, I also write, and I’ve occasionally struggled with being unable to write. I also play the guitar pretty poorly, and there are moments when I just can’t come up with anything to play.
When it comes to the first two forms of creativity, I have a legal responsibility to generate work; nevertheless, nobody would pay me to play guitar. Therefore, even if I lack the motivation to make photographs or write articles, I have no choice but to do so, not only because it is required of me by my contract, but also because I have to pay for the food that I consume.
In addition to shooting photographs for clients, I also take pictures for the sheer love of it. On the other hand, when it is not absolutely necessary for me to use my camera, it is sometimes a lot more difficult to get started. It is much more challenging for me to really wake up early and go for a walk on the beach or in the harbor in the wee hours of the morning, despite the fact that I am aware that I like doing so.
Getting My Photographic Inspiration Back
During their sleep or while daydreaming, many of history’s most brilliant thinkers have had their most brilliant thoughts. This is how Albert Einstein first conceived his theory of relativity. While waiting on a delayed train, author J.K. Rowling came up with the idea for the Harry Potter book series. In the middle of Paul McCartney’s nighttime slumber, the melody of “Yesterday” by The Beatles came to him. Daydreaming is a good way to spark creative ideas. As a result, I occasionally allow my subconscious to serve as a source of inspiration for me.
Have you listened to the fantastic adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman that is available on Audible or watched the series that is available on Netflix? Without giving away any spoilers, there is a character in one episode whose mind is going into overdrive trying to come up with new ideas. That is something that we routinely do. There are around 60,000 transient ideas that pass through our subconscious brains on a daily basis while we are not focused on a specific task.
These thoughts emerge in our heads for a brief moment and then go. Just like our dreams, we don’t recall the majority of our waking ideas, but if we write them down, we can keep them for future reference. Due to the fact that today’s cellphones all come equipped with a note-taking feature, we do not need to carry a notebook when we do that. The act of noting down an idea is simple.
Using this method to get inspiration is a habit that has to be learned gradually; trying to force it is ineffective. The more you sit still and force your brain to come up with creative ideas, the worse your case of creator’s block will get. However, going for a stroll in a park and watching other people as the sun shines through the leaves of the trees is a good way to get new ideas.
In a similar vein, being near the water or traveling through the woods, ascending a mountain, or riding a bike will get your creative juices flowing. Some of those suggestions are going to be worthwhile, but not all of them. It is absolutely necessary to jot down your thoughts on paper or to capture them using a note-taking tool on your mobile device. If you don’t write things down, you will forget them.
Using these notes as a reference, you can generate fresh concepts for your photography.
Investigating the work of others may also be a source of motivation. Looking at photographs might provide inspiration that can be expanded upon later. I am not proposing just copying and pasting the work of other people; doing so would be plagiarism. However, creativity is achieved by taking a variety of ideas, combining them in new ways, and coming up with something original.
In a recent piece, I suggested that we take pictures of what we are already familiar with. However, it’s possible that we’ll run out of ideas very quickly. Because I picture seascapes, I enjoy spending time on the beach by myself, regardless of the weather. The act of preparing the camera to record that specific moment in time produces a sensation that is indescribably unique and imprints a wonderful memory.
Every new picture I take is an improvement on the ones I’ve taken in the past. But there are occasions when I have the impression of having “done that, got the t-shirt.” After then, I make the decision to engage in altogether other activities. Simply relocating to a new setting might sometimes be all that is required to reignite one’s passion and sense of purpose.
Recently, a few of my customers have expressed an interest in learning more about abstract photography. When completely unrelated people ask for the same item at the same time, it’s a remarkable coincidence that works out like that. That turn of events worked out well for me since it motivated me to go back and photograph some abstractions. It appears that this is how the world works: events occur so that they arrive at the precise moment that they should.
The act of taking photographs is often done by one person alone. Getting together with other photographers does, however, provide us the opportunity to bounce ideas off of one another. However, it is essential that you select the correct individuals to spend time with. The impact that can be made simply by surrounding oneself with people who will support and respect what you do is significant. A negative attitude may kill your creative spirit.
Reading about photography may be a great way to get you motivated and inspire you at the same time. The cost of books is high, and electronic readers do not display photographs to the same quality as a great print on paper. However, you may frequently find photographic books on the shelves of secondhand booksellers for a price that is a fraction of the book’s original selling price. This is how I’ve come upon some genuine jewels, and now the bookcases over my computer are groaning under the weight of their collection of vintage photography books.
Music is another medium that may stimulate creative thought. The vision that is produced by music may bring forth thoughts and sensations that you can then transfer into a photograph. This is true whether you are listening to the strange lyrics of Bob Dylan or rocking out to Queen, or even if you are unwinding to a Chopin nocturne. Other types of art can function in a like manner; it was a picture by Caravaggio that inspired me to begin experimenting with chiaroscuro images with a low key.
I also set objectives for myself. It is enticing to have a lofty objective, and it is satisfying to succeed in reaching that objective. My sense of accomplishment is enhanced and I am better able to go on to the next activity when I establish less ambitious and more manageable goals for myself, particularly if I give myself a reward after achieving each one. I shift some money into a separate account so that I may put it toward the purchase of the next lens.
Many people report that fear is a big impediment to their drive. Everyone, from amateurs to seasoned experts, has admitted to feeling terrified at the prospect of exhibiting their work in a gallery or posting it online. I suppose it’s similar to having stage fright. The only way to get through that obstacle is to push through and complete the task nonetheless. What’s the worst thing that could possibly occur?
The scheduling of my photography sessions is the last step I take to combat my lack of drive. I schedule time in my calendar to shoot photographs, and I make it a point to follow through on those plans. When I invite another person along, it is expected of me to be there as well.
Do you have any tips or tricks up your sleeve that you use to assist encourage or inspire yourself to shoot photographs? It would be really helpful to read your thoughts on them in the comments section.