Staying Motivated During a 365 Project – Photography Mentoring Online

November 10, 2016

How many of you reading this have started a daily shooting project for any length of time and found yourselves struggling to continue before you were anywhere near the end? *Raises hand* I’ve been shooting daily for almost four years and I get it. Some days, weeks, and even full months can be a struggle. When my inspiration is gone, so is my motivation. After weaving in and out of countless periods of low motivation, I found a few ways to pull myself out of those uninspired slumps.

Go somewhere new.

Easy peasy. Get out of the house. Take your kids and your camera for a walk around the block. Take your camera to the grocery store next time you need to pick up some bread. I have found that when the weather gets colder and the days get darker (I’m looking at you, November), I tend to hole up inside and the days all look the same. Visually, my life gets pretty boring. I can’t emphasize enough how hard it is to find the motivation to pick up my camera and shoot something when everything looks the same, day after day. Physically changing my scenery does wonders for my motivation to shoot.

If I don’t want to or can’t actually leave the house to take pictures somewhere new, I’ll make an effort to shoot in a room that I don’t shoot in often. We spend a lot of time downstairs in the living room area so when I see that I have a week’s worth of photos all from that room, I’ll plan to shoot in one of the bedrooms upstairs for the next week.

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Focus on practicing a specific technique.

If I’m feeling stuck, a guaranteed way to get me to pick up my camera more often is to learn a new technique and set out to practice it. It can be anything. Last winter I wanted to focus on more layering in my images which meant looking at the scenes I was shooting in brand new ways.

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Want to improve your black and white images? Commit to a week or a month of shooting and editing exclusively in black and white. Want to improve your composition? Choose one technique and shoot with that in mind for a week. If you’re struggling with low light, commit to taking images after 7pm until you’re comfortable there. Having something specific to work on is extremely motivating for me, especially since I know how quickly my work can improve when I practice daily.

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Make a list of things you want to remember.

I love lists. I make lists for everything. There’s something so satisfying to me about organizing everything I can on paper and crossing items off as I go. Naturally I’d find a way to incorporate lists into my daily shooting. On a regular basis I will write down all the little and big things that my kids do that I want to remember. My list has included things like: Arlo tasting his first food, Silas carrying Arlo, Silas helping cook dinner, Dad reading books at bed time, the boys decorating pumpkins, etc. When a day rolls around and I’m low on inspiration, I will look at my list to see what I can cross off.

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If I’m really struggling, I will also go through my house and write down all the activities that I could photograph in each room. For example, for the upstairs bathroom I would write: brushing teeth (am/pm), washing hands, washing faces, bath time (playing, washing, drying), cleaning the bathroom, the boys watching me put makeup on, etc. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s more than enough to get me out of a funk when I think there’s nothing interesting to photograph.

The next time you find yourself struggling to pick up your camera, I hope you revisit these tips and push through your creative funk. Happy shooting!

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