Everybody has gone through a period where inspiration is hard to come by. It’s that terrible lack of motivation or self-confidence that prevents us from doing what it is we actually love to do.
Sometimes this lack of motivation comes from a place of frustration. Frustration at not taking great photos, or more often, not managing to take the photos you want to take. It’s happened to all of us, or if not, it will happen to you too sometime. What should you do when it happens? How do you get out of this vicious circle? I hope that my advice will help you get back on the right track.
- Frustration by technique
Often, technique is the root of the problem, whether you’re talking about the shot itself or the retouching process. Don’t fret! Technique is probably the most straightforward aspect of photography. Even though it can be intimidating, I would say that at least for the basics, it will take the least amount of your time.
To learn technique, there are lots of resources available. You could choose to read articles in blogs like Manfrotto Imagine More, like mine or lots of others out there. You can also submit your photos for critique on specialized forums or on Facebook groups. This is a very good solution. It will force you to practice and then people from all over and everywhere will be able to give you specific advice for your photography, and techniques for improvement, whether it be your shots or your post-processing! You’ll just need to start again and apply the new tips you’ve received!
If your budget is not too constrained, you can attend workshops with photographers whose work you admire. You’ll need an average of a hundred euros. There are workshops in all of the major cities. It will let you get to the bottom of things in a very special style you’re sure to enjoy, from portrait photography to landscapes, not to mention macrophotography.
- Frustration with your equipment
Sometimes, it’s not technique you’re lacking, but the right equipment, or at least that’s how it seems…
It’s true, there are some maneuvers that will require specific equipment. For example, photographing animals without a zoom is more difficult, but it’s far from impossible. Instead of taking a portrait of the animal, why don’t you try including it within its landscape, within its real habitat? We can agree that it’s a different style, but that the photos are often more beautiful, sometimes even better than if you had the zoom lens you wished you thought you needed. Be happy with what you have!
Everybody should enjoy the opportunity to get the right equipment, but it should be because you’ll enjoy it, and not because you’re stuck with the mindset, “I can’t do what I want with what I’ve got.” If you want to invest in your equipment, start with lenses rather than new cameras. A lens will (almost) always be just as good as when you bought it, while a camera often has a limited lifespan…I really like fixed 50mm lenses. They are not expensive lenses and if you only have one purchase to make, it should be that one (unless you already have one!)If you save €20 every month, you’ll have enough to buy a used model before summer and take portraits of your friends, or you’ll have enough for a new one by Christmas!
If you already have some equipment, no point in investing in more, work within your constraints! If you have a lot of equipment, you’re going to hurt your back (unless you’ve got the right bag 😉 and photography won’t be much fun then. Here’s a limit you can set: choose one lens and one only before you head out on a photo-taking excursion. You’ll start to see things with a new view, and you’ll start to seek out the right perspective. There will be a lot more reflection that goes into each of your photos and the results will show it without question.
- Total inspiration meltdown
Finally, sometimes it’s neither technique nor equipment that’s missing: it’s truly a lack of inspiration. You just don’t know what to do anymore….
In that case, the key words are “discover something new”. Are you used to taking portraits? Forget about everything you know! If you’re in the country, take a bike ride at sunrise, go for a walk in the forest, go hiking, try macrophotography!
By getting right down onto the ground you’ll discover the infinitely small. There’s a world teeming right under our feet. That’s right, you’ve been passing right over it all these years and you didn’t have a clue. If you’re in the city, do some architectural photography, street photography, or long night exposures!
If you’re like me and are normally a solitary type, try to step outside yourself and go out and meet people and take their portraits! Since I love music and musical instruments, I decided to go out and meet a lute player and do some photojournalism on guitar making. Not only did I get to meet people and take photos, but I was also able to satisfy my curiosity by discovering some of the key points in how this instrument is manufactured.
Work on a photo series, either a 365 or a 52 project, or on any subject that is close to your heart, whether political, ecological, social. I’m sure one of these subjects so important in daily life will spark your interest! It might be a passion you have for sports, hobbies…As for me, since I live near the ocean, I am a witness to the pollution left behind on beach resort areas after the summer season and throughout the winter months. It’s become a passion for me and one I want to document in photographs!
A final point I wanted to address before concluding this article: go out and meet other photographers and talk with them, find out how they have evolved, the difficulties they have encountered, get to know their work and take inspiration from them! You can meet other photographers on photo excursions organized by forums or if they are having an exhibition in your city.
So you get the picture: the best way to get inspired again is to step out of your routine and take photos. Break away from your old haunts, try out new styles and work within set limits. By working within some specific constraints, you’ll change your way of doing things and motivation will begin to come back.
Products used: Manfrotto Shoulder Bag A7
An enthusiastic self-taught photographer, Clément took inspiration at first from his environment, and then he moved toward concert photography, which allowed him to wed the flavors of two of his great passions, photography and music.