I think it’s interesting that Kristina wrote about inspiration yesterday. It certainly plays nicely into the closely related topic of motivation, something that I tend to think about a lot. Personally I don’t think inspiration is magic or that talent gets you anywhere.  For me it comes down to the very real, and often very boring job of working on my photography every single day.

This could be as simple as organizing my existing photographs (no ones photos are as organized as they could be), editing some older photos (we all have a back log we haven’t had time to edit), planning the next photo outing or simply grabbing the closest camera and taking advantage of the light and some crazy new idea. The point is, you want to be doing something that moves you forward every day. Of course that is easier said than done because motivation is something you can’t just turn on. We all hit moments when we lose our motivation. So todays question is: how do you keep motivated.

Being a fan of LEGO, or any of the other numerous toy lines, has its own built-in motivation. With ever newly released set or figure the creative juices start flowing as you think of new story lines, new jokes and other ideas that star these new recruits. But what if you are looking for something beyond the next quick fix?

If you are looking for motivation for your next photograph beyond a few new toys, why not grab a new (realtivly cheap) lens for your dslr? My personal favorite is the LensBaby (which is also available for mobile cameras) you can purchase a Diana lens or a Holga lens (cheap) to experiment with Lomo photography. You can really go low-fi and turn your DSLR into a pinhole camera (super cheap)! I really like the idea of the low-fi attributes of a plastic lens (or no lens) combined with the convenience of digital photography; its like the best of both worlds. Of course if you have some extra cash lying around you might consider purchasing the recently rereleased Petzval lens.

Last week I had a birthday (which Me2 was kind enough to mention) and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to play hooky for the day and head up into the mountains for a few hours of photography. Even though the weather was looking less than ideal (rain and cool) my husband and I decided to go forward with our plans; weather be damned! I packed my mini figures, my camera (with LensBaby attached), a rain coat and we headed out for the day. I also brought along a mid sized model of Antony from the movie AntMan to play with. I love this model and have been looking for an opportunity to shoot it.

Ant Man - lensbaby

Here are my three biggest take aways from my afternoons adventure:

  1. Don’t be afraid of bad weather. I am so glad I went out in the misty, dark, drizzly weather because I loved the light and the mood that was instantly created. I can’t wait to head into the mountains the next time we have weather even approaching what I experienced.
  2. These inexpensive lenses need to be used on “manual” setting which really slowed me down. I will admit I am a lazy photography. I let the camera and the lens make decisions for me when I shoot toys. I have always relied on auto focus as well as aperture priority much to the horror of my professional photography friends. By relying on the auto features I have able to speed up the photography process and it lets me get the shot I want. Now that I am shooting on full manual, including focus (ugh!) my speed has slowed to a crawl. This is forcing me to be more considerate about the images I try to capture. Each scene needs to be thought out in advance and I end up taking endless shots to get the framing, focus and exposure just right. Ultimatly I think this will be very, very good for me; anything that makes me shoot photographs with more intention can’t be a bad.
  3. I really like the LensBaby. I have been looking for a different way to capture my mid sized models. I have several I have been saving until I had found a way to do them justice. My go-to 50m or 100mm macro’s were just too sharp for the look I wanted to capture. After playing with the LensBaby I like the motion blur I can achieve with it; it makes the toys feel more alive. I also enjoy the toy camera aspects of shooting with a cheap lens on my full blown professional grade DSLR. I feel there is more of a connection to my iPhone toy photography roots. Of course I find this all rather ironic and hilarious.

My advice to you (and to myself) is to not worry about the final product… just practice your skills on a daily basis. If you need to find some extra motivation try a new toy, a new camera accessory, a new location or even a new photo buddy. Any one of these opportunities for motivation and inspiration can take you on a journey you never imagined.

My one afternoon in the woods with a different lens in crummy weather taught me more than any book, any blog post, any lecture I could have attended. There is no substitute for practicing your craft to move you forward. Inspiration is nice if you find it, talent is handy if you use it, but nothing can beat doing the work.

At some point, when you are well on your way to creating your own amazing work, you may realize that motivation and inspiration have taken care of themselves.

~ xxSJC

How do you stay motivated?

Have you played with any of these specialty or plastic lenses before? If so which ones and what was the result? 

Watermarked Photo (2015-09-29-1303)