When I came up with the idea of writing this post, I couldn’t help but sense the irony in it. It has been an incredibly slow couple of months, both in terms of the website and my photography, and this has been down to a severe lack of motivation on my part. So, it is quite ironic that I am writing about how you can stay motivated when I have been struggling. While I can blame the recent long hours at the office coupled with bad weather whenever I have managed to be free, the truth is there have been other things sapping away my motivation. But rather than feeling sorry for myself, I’ve begun to do things to bring back my enthusiasm and thought I would share them with you in this post.
Before I get into it, I do want to say that if you are currently feeling unmotivated, don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone gets demotivated from time to time so don’t feel like you are doing something wrong feeling like this. The most important thing is that you keep your chin up, don’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure and take things at your own pace.
Stop Negatively Comparing Yourself to Other Photographers
While comparisons are a healthy way of getting inspiration and learning new things, they can also be incredibly destructive if you use them in the wrong way. I’ve been guilty of coming home after a hard day at work, logging onto Instagram and seeing some of the photographers I follow putting amazing images out day after day and thinking “why do I even bother”. And the longer it was between getting out with my camera, the worse it got to the point I stopped enjoying it because of the pressure I was putting on myself. I am sure I am not the only person to do this and in the social media age, it is very easy to put yourself in this position.
What’s worked for me is recognising when this self-talk starts (and stopping it quickly) and remembering why I enjoy photography and why I started in the first place. Since I’ve been actively doing this, I’ve felt the self-imposed pressure drop and I am enjoying my photography again.
Have an Adventure
Nothing gets your inspiration going like getting out to a new place with your camera, whether that is visiting a new city or getting out in to nature. It gives you the enthusiasm to search for new locations beforehand but also the opportunity to explore when you are there. To try and get over my recent slump I headed out to the Lake District for the weekend with my girlfriend with the aim of taking some photographs. This didn’t quite go to plan as Saturday was a bit of a wash out, and on Sunday I would have been better bringing a surfboard to Buttermere lake than my camera! Despite the difficult weather, we persevered, and I came away with a few good photographs.
Get Some New Gear
Getting new equipment can certainly give your motivation a boost, giving you the ability to try completely new avenues of photography that you may have not tried before. When I got my Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 one of the first things I wanted to try with it was astrophotography which led to a few trips out to Iping common. I’ve recently also bought a Nikon 35mm f1.8 which I am eager to take out. I bought this lens because I wanted to restrict my ability to compose an image without moving in order to challenge myself. One word of caution with this tip is don’t rely on it solely to keep you motivated. Photography can be a very expensive hobby and your bank balance certainly won’t thank you for it.
Have your Photographs Critiqued
One of the quickest and most effective ways to learn and improve is to get feedback on your photographs. In the digital age this is easier than ever with the internet giving you access to the opinions of millions of people relatively easily. While you could ask for feedback on your photographs on platforms such as Instagram, I tend to stick to dedicated photography forums and reddit channels. I do this because you tend to get more in-depth critique and a back and forth where you can explain more about how you took the photograph. This is something I’ve been doing more recently on the Talk Photography forum and on the Photo Critique sub-reddit. By doing this, I’ve gotten some great tips on how to improve which has given me the drive to go out and incorporate them into my photographs.
Reach out to other photographers/Join a Photography Club
Photography doesn’t have to be a lonely hobby (unless you want it to be!). Reaching out to other photographers and finding time to go shooting with them is a great way of making friends but also sharing knowledge and improving your photography. I went out around London with my friend Dean over two days and I took more photographs of the city than I have ever took in one go. It was great to share ideas between us and it gave us both the motivation to take better photos.
Another way of doing this is joining a photography club. I haven’t personally done this, but if you search for them, I am sure you will be able to find quite a few local to you that regularly hold organised shoots.
Try a New Type of Photography
If you are used to only shooting one type of photography, trying a new type can expose you to lots of new techniques that you wouldn’t otherwise come across. If you’ve taken a look at my gallery, you’ll see that I mainly shoot landscapes and cityscapes, but recently I’ve begun to look into portrait photography and with it a whole new way of taking photographs. This has led me to beginning to experiment more with shallow depths of field, poses, and on and off camera lighting (with very varying levels of success!). So trying a new type of photography is definitely a sure fire way to stay motivated.
Take a Break from Photography
“Wait a second, this post is meant to be about staying motivated and you are telling me to take a break?”
Believe it or not, yes, I am. It might seem incredibly counter intuitive to do that when you are feeling demotivated, but sometimes you just can’t force it. This is often the worse thing that you can do. In these moments it is better to take a step back and give yourself some time away from the camera rather than burning out. You can take this opportunity to put some time into the other things in your life. For me, that is music and playing the guitar. For you it might be something like sports, or even taking up a new hobby. This worked well for me at the beginning of the year and removed a lot of the self-imposed pressure I was placing on myself.
I hope you have found this post helpful and hopefully it has given you a few new ideas if you have been struggling for motivation. As with my previous posts, if you have found them useful, please sure on social media and if you have any comments, please write them below.