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.
Here are my three biggest take aways from my afternoons adventure:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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?
Great post! So true about just getting out there and shooting pictures without worrying about it!
I’m really struggling with motivation right now. I’m in the final stretch of my 365 project for the year, focusing on getting to know my macro lens. I restricted myself to that lens to try and make me learn to use it. It’s worked (somewhat – I’m still very much an auto mode girl), but I’m so ready to move onto some other lenses! I’m definitely now looking at several lensbaby lenses as they look so fun, as well as the pinhole cover!!
I think what keeps me going is that I hate failure, and I have yet to quit a 365 photo project. This far through the project, it’s not going to happen. (I hope).
I also keep going because its my chance in the day to get out and take some photos, even when everything else feels like a bad day, those 10-20 minutes make me calm down and focus on something I enjoy doing (and I do enjoy it, even when some days, when a photoshoot has gone badly, I want to pack it all in!)
Thank you for your kind words and sharing your personal experience. I sincerely admire anyone who has taken on a 365 project. It is an amazing achievement no matter how far you get. It sounds like you are doing all the right things to keep up your motivation. Macro photography is fun and I hope that the pressure of completing a 365 doesn’t take all the fun out of it for you. Keep us all updated on your progress. Also if you do get a LensBabay and play with it, tag me with some of your photos on IG, Twitter or Flickr so I can see the results. I would love to see what you get up to!
Nice advice, i need to stop the laziness! and maybe play hooky for once!! lately i´ve been trying to mix my work emails with funny pictures for people i´m close at work, those never get published but allow me to practice a bit, though they´re always staged at my desk! ^_^
Lol! I can image your desk a play ground for lego mini figures! Whatever it takes to stay motivated and in practice. I highly recommend taking a day at least once a month (doesn’t have to be from work) from life and dedicate it to a photography adventure. Even half a day will energize you. It is amazing what can happen when you plan and act with intention. The energy you gain will more than make up for any time lost. If you do, make sure you report back the results. We all want to know how it goes! Shelly
Great post! I find it really interesting because it is also something I have thought I lot about for the past months. I recently experienced myself a period of two months where I had almost no motivation for toy photography. I spent both July and August taking very few photos. For the few ones I took, I judged all of them not good enough to be post-processed and shared online, making me feel more and more demotivated. There were many issues that caused this lack of motivation, most of them are still not resolved and will not be for at least a few months. However I achieved to go over it and find some motivation again. The trigger was simply spending an evening successfully taking minifig shots.
Overall I think that the best way to stay motivated on a daily basic is doing something everyday. I really admire people that are able to do a 365 project because I lack the energy to shoot on a daily basis when having to deal with a job that takes a lot of my “available brain time”.
Oh and I really like your Benny picture with the teddy bear. The focus makes the picture really strong and appealing for the eyes.
Thank you for your kind words on my post! You are such a loyal reader and commenter – it means the world to us here!
Trust me when I say we all have down periods. Creativity and motivation is very cynical and there is not much to be done about it. When you are not feeling motivated maybe that is the time to work on organizing your photo files. It is amazing what happens when you look back over alder shots. Sometimes I get motivated just by seeing photos i really liked taking from months or years back. Also don’t judge your photos too harshly. Some of my pics with the most likes are ones I would have hit the delete key on. You just never know how your audience will react to any image. Sometimes I will take the magical images and practice editing them with crazy photo editing programs like color splash, tangled fx or noir. I have resurrected many a marginal image this way. Nothing is ever a total loss. 😀
I also admire anyone who embarks on a 365, like Lizzy who commented earlier. It is a lot of work and brain power. Like you my job and life commitments would never allow it. But there is a lot of room between not posting for many months and posting everyday. And it is all good!
Thank you for your kind words about my Sad Benni photo. That LensBaby is tough to get the focus AND composition lined up in the same photo. But when it does, it is magic.
I look forward to our next exchange!