Staying Motivated as a New Photographer
When I came up with the idea of writing this post, I couldn’t help but sense the irony in it. It has been a slow couple of months, both for the website and my photography. 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 myself. I could blame the recent long hours at the office and the bad weather we’ve been having. But I know it is more than that and that is what I want to talk about in this post. Because rather than feeling sorry for myself, I’ve begun to do things to bring back my enthusiasm.
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. Don’t feel like you are doing something wrong because you feel like this. This happens to everyone at one point or another.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Other Photographers
Comparisons to others can be a healthy way of getting inspiration and getting back your drive. But, used in the wrong way, these comparisons can also be destructive. I’ve been guilty of logging onto Instagram after a long day at work, seeing amazing photographs way ahead of what I can produce and thinking “why do I bother?”. The longer it had been since I had gone out with my camera the worse it got. And in all honesty, I started to lose my enthusiasm for it all. 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.
But what has worked for me is learning to recognise when this self-talk starts. A book that was lent to me by a friend called “The Chimp Paradox” by Dr Steve Peters has been a big help in developing this. Since I’ve been doing this, I’ve felt the self-imposed pressure on myself drop. And I’ve begun to get excited about photography again. If this is happening to you, take a moment to recognise this self-talk. And when you recognise it, remind yourself why you started photography in the first place.
Have an Adventure
Nothing gets your inspiration going like getting out to a new place with your camera. This could be anything from visiting a new city to getting out into nature. It gives you the enthusiasm to search for new locations but also the opportunity to explore and try new things. To get over my recent slump I headed out to the Lake District for the weekend with my girlfriend. The aim of the trip was to photograph some snow-covered mountains. While this didn’t quite go to plan due to the weather, we persevered, had a lot of fun and I came away with a few good photographs regardless.
Get Some New Gear
There is nothing like a new toy to play with to get the motivation juices flowing. New gear, be it a lens, camera or other can give your motivation a boost. It gives you the drive to get out there and take new photos with them and try new things. So many photographers I’ve spoken to have talked about wanting to go back to previous locations when they’ve bought new gear. When I got my Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 one of the first things I wanted to try with it was astrophotography. And this led to a few trips out to Iping Common to test it out (you can see how I did here). I’ve recently also bought a Nikon 35mm f1.8 which I am eager to take out. I bought this lens to restrict myself to one focal length to see what compositions I could come up with. One word of caution with this tip is don’t rely on it to keep you motivated. Photography can be a very expensive hobby and your bank balance won’t thank you for it if you do.
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. The internet gives you access to the opinions of millions of people at the drop of a hat. When I’ve wanted feedback I’ve used photography forums such as Fstoppers and Talkphotography. I’ve even used photo critique subreddit channels. By doing this I’ve managed to get some great advice and see my images differently. This has already given me lots of areas to work on improving. One word of warning. Not everyone on the internet is nice so you may encounter so rather harsh feedback. If this happens, know it isn’t aimed at you personally and take it for what it is.
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 shooting with them is a great way of not only making friends but also sharing knowledge. I’ve done this a few times, most recently with my friend Dean. Over the few days he visited, I took more photographs of London than ever before. 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 by joining a photography club. I haven’t done this, but if you search for them, I am sure you will be able to find a few local to you that hold organised shoots.
Try a New Type of Photography
If you are unmotivated by the type of photography you shoot, you can always try something new. This will help you come across and try new techniques you might have not otherwise have found. 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 begin 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 a sure-fire way to stay motivated.
Take a Break from Photography
“Wait for a second, this post is meant to be about staying motivated and you’re telling me to take a break?”
Believe it or not, yes, I am. It might seem counter-intuitive when you are feeling unmotivated, but sometimes you can’t force it. Forcing it is often the worst thing that you can do. In these moments it is better to take a step back, give yourself some time away from the camera, and not burn 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’ve found this post helpful. 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 this useful, please be sure to share. If you have any comments, please post them below or use the contact me page.
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