How to get reinspired

rfs2005

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 20, 2008
41
0
To all,

I've been dabbling in photography for about 10 years, or so. I never did anything professional - it was always just a hobby. I mainly took photos of downtown buildings, sunsets, and nature. Lately, I am finding that I only pick up my camera once or twice a year. I really do enjoy taking photos, but I just haven't been able to find anything that really inspires me to pick up the camera again.

Does anyone have any suggestions for getting around this photography version of "writer's block"? What do you all do to reignite your inspirations?

Thank you.
 

Doylem

macrumors 68040
Dec 30, 2006
3,858
3,640
Wherever I hang my hat...
I get writer’s block when I’ve got my writer’s hat on, but I don’t think I’ve ever had photographer’s block. Whenever I go out with my camera (which is every time I go out...), I love to take pix. And the first thing I do when I get home is to load the pix onto my computer, so I can see what I’ve got. So I’m 99% certain that photography is a passion that will last me a lifetime.

But that’s me; what about you? Firstly, it doesn’t have to happen. If taking pictures doesn’t work for you anymore, then sell the camera and buy a set of golf clubs instead. You don’t have to do it. As you say, it was always just a hobby.

Inspiration can come in many different way, and this is what I do. Instead of fretting about places I’ll never see, or cameras I’ll never own, or lighting conditions I’ll never experience... I try to see my immediate surroundings with new eyes. Take a bus-ride into town, and be a tourist: look at familiar things afresh. Slow down. Have no expectations. Make no demands. Be very observant. Use the camera to have a more ‘immersive’ experience of your surroundings, rather than as something that gets in the way. Good luck...
 

themumu

macrumors 6502a
Feb 13, 2011
720
561
Sunnyvale
I get writer’s block when I’ve got my writer’s hat on, but I don’t think I’ve ever had photographer’s block. Whenever I go out with my camera (which is every time I go out...), I love to take pix. And the first thing I do when I get home is to load the pix onto my computer, so I can see what I’ve got. So I’m 99% certain that photography is a passion that will last me a lifetime.

But that’s me; what about you? Firstly, it doesn’t have to happen. If taking pictures doesn’t work for you anymore, then sell the camera and buy a set of golf clubs instead. You don’t have to do it. As you say, it was always just a hobby.

Inspiration can come in many different way, and this is what I do. Instead of fretting about places I’ll never see, or cameras I’ll never own, or lighting conditions I’ll never experience... I try to see my immediate surroundings with new eyes. Take a bus-ride into town, and be a tourist: look at familiar things afresh. Slow down. Have no expectations. Make no demands. Be very observant. Use the camera to have a more ‘immersive’ experience of your surroundings, rather than as something that gets in the way. Good luck...
While I cannot disagree with what you are saying, I have to comment on that particular point about places. I think there are very few places that you really have no way of ever seeing first hand. Like flying in between the hydrogen clouds in a distant star cluster: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap131203.html or walking along the ice cracks on Europa: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap131215.html

I grew up devouring a huge detailed world atlas, dreaming of all the places that seemed so, so far away. But the world is now smaller and more accessible than ever, and if you have a genuine desire, it can be an eye opener to go and explore all that.

It may or may not result in some awesome photography, but it's one of the most rewarding things you can do.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,641
450
Redondo Beach, California
.
Does anyone have any suggestions for getting around this photography version of "writer's block"? What do you all do to reignite your inspirations?

Thank you.
Seems that you have enough photos of building and sun sets. Those are "easy" subjects because they stand still. Try photographing something that has a behavior and does stuff. People come to mind.

Get some over sized coffee table photo books from the library and fin doe photographers that you like. Hopefully in a genre you have not done, say "travel photography" then try and emulate the style in the book. It is OK to "rip off" a style if yu are a student. All artists do this, have been for centuries. Take 100 or so frames, run them through your work flow and pick the best 5 or 10 (ten at most) compare these to the ones in the book and then re-shoot. Do this EVERY week. Just shot 100 frame each week. Give yourself assignments to do a "Westin" type still life, shoot 100 of them find the best five. Then do it again.

Then go do a "travel shoot" of your home town as if you were a tourist. Take 100 shots, find the best five. o they look like the ones in the travel magazine? Likely not so shoot 100 more.

You can spend years doing this, one self assignment from books and magazines per week in a genre that is new to you. It only takes a few hours per week.

The key to becoming a "photographer" and not a "snap shooter" is to have images in your head BEFORE you go out to take photos. You have an assignment and a clear goal.

Of all of them I like "travel", take photos of the people and places around yu, especially people in their surroundings doing every day things. Most people will say yes if you ask to photograph them, give out a card with a URL on it where they can see your work and say it might show up there but you only put of the five best photos you take each week. Travel works, but any goal is good and always compare your work to professionals you admire.

----------

.....
I grew up devouring a huge detailed world atlas, dreaming of all the places that seemed so, so far away. But the world is now smaller and more accessible than ever, and if you have a genuine desire, it can be an eye opener to go and explore all that.

It may or may not result in some awesome photography, but it's one of the most rewarding things you can do.
I have to disagree a little. The best photos are made by people who were shooting LOCALLY of objects and place near where they live. Those are the places you know very well and importantly, you can wait for weeks for the light and weather to be perfect and you can re-shoot 100 times. The prime example was Ansel Adams and Yosemite he lived there and knew the place. A tourist who is there for three days would never get those photos. So shoot local.
 

themumu

macrumors 6502a
Feb 13, 2011
720
561
Sunnyvale
The best photos are made by people who were shooting LOCALLY of objects and place near where they live. Those are the places you know very well and importantly, you can wait for weeks for the light and weather to be perfect and you can re-shoot 100 times. The prime example was Ansel Adams and Yosemite he lived there and knew the place. A tourist who is there for three days would never get those photos. So shoot local.
I agree completely that knowing your subject increases the quality of the photos. I was just commenting on the line about "places I'll never see". If you dream of seeing something, of visiting a particular location, there was never a better time in human history to make those dreams reality. I know quite a few people who think they cannot go out and travel, but when you break it down, they have no objective reason for thinking this way other than the fear of breaking the routine, fear of the unknown.

It kind of relates a bit to what Doylem said:

But that’s me; what about you? Firstly, it doesn’t have to happen. If taking pictures doesn’t work for you anymore, then sell the camera and buy a set of golf clubs instead. You don’t have to do it. As you say, it was always just a hobby.
A person doesn't have to be a photographer if it's not working out. There are tons of other exciting things to do, although I don't think golf is one of them :D
 

Phrasikleia

macrumors 601
Feb 24, 2008
4,077
400
Over there------->
Seems that you have enough photos of building and sun sets. Those are "easy" subjects because they stand still.
Spoken like someone who does not photograph sunsets very often. I assure you that they do not stand still! Sometimes the decisive moment in a landscape scene exists for only a split second.

I know quite a few people who think they cannot go out and travel, but when you break it down, they have no objective reason for thinking this way other than the fear of breaking the routine, fear of the unknown.
This is really great advice. There is a lot to be said for developing a relationship with a location, but you can do so far away from home. One of the greatest joys of photography is the process of exploration and discovery. The best moments are when you have it all: you explore, you find something, you stop and get to know it for a while. Then you work it for as long as you have, and if you think you can do better, you return someday to try again. I now have locations in numerous countries that I think of as my 'own' because I found them on my own and developed a personal connection with each them.

As for finding inspiration: just fill your eyes with great photography. Go to 1x.com or 500px.com or some such website and look for photos that you like. If that doesn't get your juices flowing, then maybe the golf clubs aren't such a bad idea.
 

Cheese&Apple

macrumors 68010
Jun 5, 2012
2,004
6,604
Toronto
My inspiration comes from combining one passion with another. I love photography and I love nature, outdoor life, wildlife and travel.

A day spent hiking trails, around home or elsewhere, with camera in hand works for me. Conversely, a trip downtown through hours of traffic congestion to photograph glass, concrete and steel, leaves me with little or no inspiration.

Ultimately, one hobby supports the other. If I don’t feel like getting-out and being active, the camera inspires to get moving. If I don’t feel like taking pictures, I’ll go for a hike and take the camera with me just in case. The end result is that I have pictures to remind me of moments that I enjoyed in my travels.
 

Apple fanboy

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 21, 2012
36,962
25,953
Behind the Lens, UK
As for finding inspiration: just fill your eyes with great photography. Go to 1x.com or 500px.com or some such website and look for photos that you like. If that doesn't get your juices flowing, then maybe the golf clubs aren't such a bad idea.
Just head over to Phrasikleia's own website. That should be inspiration enough for anybody!
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,641
450
Redondo Beach, California
Spoken like someone who does not photograph sunsets very often. I assure you that they do not stand still! Sometimes the decisive moment in a landscape scene exists for only a split second.
I've done a few. I live within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. Yes the sun moves. But it moves in a predictable way and gives you time to set up a tripod and wait and if you miss it, the next time the weather is "right" you can re-shoot.

Same with buildings, the light changes and it does mater when you shoot it. I've waited for airplanes and the like to move out of landscapes too. But these are nearly STATIC subject. Nothing like animals or shots of people doing things where you want to capture a story or some behavior or expression.

What I was really saying was he needs to (1) push himself out of his comfort zone and do other kinds of work. and (2) make self assignments with goals. and (3) compare his work to the BEST masters he can find.
 

Phrasikleia

macrumors 601
Feb 24, 2008
4,077
400
Over there------->
I've done a few. I live within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. Yes the sun moves. But it moves in a predictable way and gives you time to set up a tripod and wait and if you miss it, the next time the weather is "right" you can re-shoot.

Same with buildings, the light changes and it does mater when you shoot it. I've waited for airplanes and the like to move out of landscapes too. But these are nearly STATIC subject. Nothing like animals or shots of people doing things where you want to capture a story or some behavior or expression.

What I was really saying was he needs to (1) push himself out of his comfort zone and do other kinds of work. and (2) make self assignments with goals. and (3) compare his work to the BEST masters he can find.
I agree with the last part about the comfort zone, but you're completely misrepresenting the nature of nature: it is neither static nor predictable. Imagine the minuscule window of opportunity for a shot like this:



If you've never tried to time a little opening in some fast moving clouds with the perfect, dramatic fanning spray of a crashing wave, then you may not realize how hard it is to do this.

And as for lying in wait and being able to return to try again, the same is true for street photography or wildlife or anything else for that matter. If you have an idea, you can put yourself in position and hope for the best: an interesting person walking into your scene and doing something really expressive, or an animal exhibiting a certain kind of behavior. It may not be the same person or animal each time you return, just like it won't be the same perfect cloud formations, quality of light, wind patterns, wave height, etc. in a landscape scene.

That comfort zone you mention is not a wall around a certain genre. It can be a wall within one as well. You can climb out of the landscape comfort zone and still be shooting landscapes, but they will then be of a very different sort; they won't be the low-hanging fruit that you seem to think typifies the genre. Trust me, if you really want a challenge, landscape photography can provide it in spades.
 
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