It happens to all of us – amateurs, hobbyists, and professionals alike.
Sometimes it can feel a bit like falling out of love. You shoot less and less until one day you wake up and realize you haven’t taken a photo in a month! Not a great feeling – but don’t worry, it’s fixable.
Here are 3 things I do to stay inspired with photography whenever I feel like I’m losing the spark.
Staying inspired with photography means treating your Gear Acquisition Syndrome
Camera and lens reviews of the latest and greatest offerings are sure to sabotage your passion for shooting with the camera in your bag. After binge-reading about backlit sensors, dual ISOs, and IBIS, it’s impossible not to feel like the reason you aren’t creating the photos you see in your mind’s eye.
Instead, try reading in-depth, real world reviews of the gear you already own. It'll re-spark your love affair with what you have at arms reach, and keep you from feeling like you can't make the image you want without the next technical upgrade.
There’s nothing more humbling or exciting than reading a review of a camera or lens that you own with photos that are mind-blowingly better than what you’ve created. Take it as a personal challenge – can you replicate those shots? Improve on them?
Realizing that you’re realistically not held back by what you have is a surefire way to address gear acquisition syndrome – and it’s resulting apathy.
Revisit the photos you're proud of... and the ones you're not
Combing through your Lightroom archive can be fun for a few hours of cringe or celebration, but there’s also a real utility in the practice of looking over your past work.
Oftentimes after shoots, we’re quick to grab our selects and move on, disregarding the other shots as delete-worthy. But revisit a month old shoot with fresh eyes and you’ll be sure to have a whole new set of selects, and a new idea on how to process them.
It’s shocking how much a simple crop can impact an existing photo, and that’s not even getting started with white balance and overall exposure.
With every photo you process, your skills increase: taste level, technical execution, understanding of color and luminosity, and eye for composition. A few years ago, ultra-faded blacks were in vogue. Now high clarity magenta/cyan neon looks are everywhere. Try to step back from replicating what’s popular on Instagram and refer back to paintings.
Referencing paintings when editing your photos might sound lofty, but take it from me – emulating colors and tones from my favorite painter was one of the most impactful things I ever did to carve out my own look and feel.
Once you’re proud of your new process, compare it to the edit you made at the time of shooting. That’s growth!
Creativity flourishes under constraints
Maybe nothing has caught your eye for a while. Maybe you live somewhere that’s objectively boring. Maybe you’re just out of ideas on what to shoot.
Without any sort of rules or limits on what you can shoot, you can shoot anything you want – and that’s daunting. You’re sabotaged by a behavioral principle called ‘decision paralysis’ that occurs when people are presented with too many options. Simply put, you’re more inclined to do nothing when you can do everything.
The key to overriding decision paralysis is to implement more limits and controls on what you’re allowed to shoot. After all, there’s a reason photo challenges are so popular!
I’ve developed a photo challenge designed to boost every aspect of your photography skills, so be sure to give that a read if you’re feeling stuck.
Digital strategist, writer, and image maker based in Manhattan working with clients in the tech and entertainment industry.