If you have been long enough in any hobby you might be familiar with the feeling, and photography is not an exception. You really enjoy making photos but for some reason you don’t find the motivation to go out and shoot.
This has many different causes. Humans feel a natural attraction towards challenges and a rejection to routine, so most probably you have been shooting similar subjects for too long or you simply mastered a specific technique that a while ago was a challenging and exciting one.
Of course, what motivates one person might not work for another but, in general, anything that introduces a change in your routine will help you find that original motivation again. I want to share a couple of ideas that have worked for me in those moments, just in case you are finding it hard to get back on track.
Probably the easy ways to get motivated are also the expensive ones, or so it may seem at first glance. One of those is getting new photographic gear.
Buying a new camera, lens, filter or whatever you can think of will not only help you by the simple fact of wanting to try out your new acquisition. What is more important, it will usually involve trying out new styles of photography or new techniques.
For instance, if you buy a wide angle lens, you will find that the perspective of your photos will be completely different than before, allowing you to try out new compositions or subjects. In some ways, this will bring a feeling of re-discovering photography and your mind will start looking for different points of view of even the same places you encounter every day.
Something similar happens with filters. By getting new filters like for instance a neutral density filter, and by playing with them, you will find new ways to see at subjects that might feel already too familiar to you.
Other, more obvious, change can come from going somewhere you’ve never been before. This one can be as expensive as you want it to be. If you like landscape photography, no doubt that a trip to the Himalayas will boost your motivation, but you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars. By even cycling to the outskirts of your city you will find locations that are completely new to you and if your mind is already used to finding compositions (something natural after some years making photos), in no time you will find interesting subjects.
You can also use different free tools available on the internet such as Google maps to plan where to go by looking at terrain features. This way you will also have a better idea on what gear to take or at what time of the day to go.
This one is even easier. Most of use are used to making photos at a specific time. Call it daytime, nighttime, golden or blue hour, we tend to focus on a specific type of photography and thus we end up taking our camera out always at the same hour. Try making photos (even of the subjects you’ve made before) at a completely different time of the day.
To get interesting results, you might have to wake up really early or even go out when rain is pouring down or during a snowstorm and more often than not, you will come back home surprised. Take your time to experiment and don’t give up after your first try. Different light conditions have particularities that will require some learning time.
The reason why the whole social network concept is so successful is because we all enjoy some level of recognition from others. So, sharing your work with others can be very helpful. It does not have to be on the internet. You can simply show your work to your friends or family but certainly using some of the available platforms to showcase your photos (e.g. Flickr, 500px, Instagram, etc.) will help you get a feeling on how well you are doing. Unfortunately, the feedback from these sites tend to be rather empty with most people writing comments like ‘Great shot’ only to get a comment back but how much exposure your photos get is usually a good way of evaluating your own work and getting motivated to upload your next image.
Even without leaving the comfort of your home, you can boost your motivation by revisiting your old photos. I tend to go through my old photos every couple of months and I always find some that I neglected back then simply because I lacked the Photoshop skills to get something out of them. From simple adjustments such as white balance or brightness to more advanced retouching such as adding elements to the original image or creating surreal images by combining several different shots, when you learn new post-processing techniques you can get final images that will keep surprising you long after capturing the original files. If you are relatively new to Photoshop, you can start by using actions and then look for tutorials on photography websites.
These are just some tips but in any case find what better works for you and don’t feel like there’s something wrong with your love for photography whenever you feel that lack of motivation. Just keep trying new thing and have fun!