Lacking photographic motivation
Since returning from Scotland, which was the beginning of June, I haven't done anything outdoor photographic wise and to be honest I don’t foresee this changing until Autumn. It’s difficult for me to pin point what is causing the lack of motivation to venture out and photograph. I’m picked up a camera everyday due to work, and the workload is no worse.
The obvious factors? Weather and summer days? It’s certainly obvious that most photographers struggle in Summer. For anyone who doesn’t do photography it’s hard to comprehend this. Summer brings glorious sunshine and blue skies! Well that is the very reason why it’s bad to photograph in. It’s boring, no drama, stark contrast and blue skies with no movement.
Do I care that I am not photographing my usual outdoors and mountains?
No, why should I? But, on a daily basis I see more and more photographers questioning themselves and putting themselves down further by accepting the lack of motivation and trying to force the motion of creativity when it simply doesn’t exist at that present in time.
Social media is a great tool. (Sorry, you may be thinking. Here we go again bashing Social media again). You can connect with likeminded people, share your photos and adventures and reach that wider audience, ultimately bringing in more views, readers, fans, workshop bookings, purchasing prints and so on…
…But equally when you see others around you constantly posting something new when you are not producing anything is very frustrating and upsetting. The obvious causing self-doubt and questioning, in some instances your own talents and goals in being creative. This pressure to constantly produce, to constantly shoot and share is ultimately somewhat dangerous. That might sound melodramatic to say dangerous but the rolling effect of mental health and comparison. However, that is something that is a long tangent and I don’t wish to explore that here.
Why am I writing about this then? Within our Vanguard Photo UK Ambassadors group on Facebook, several members shared their lack of motivation, inspiration and lack of being online so they could avoid the constant stream of photography and others posting.
Everyone is on their own journey. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others and just enjoy.
Scott Read: “Evening fellow Ambassadors.... Do any of you employ any particular strategies for curing 'Photographers Block', inspiration, motivation etc...? Since my recent exhibition ended, the years project and its culmination exhibition seem to have totally drained me of my photography life blood!! ... Have taken a few weeks away from social media to reboot, and am slowly getting back into a productive mindset, but feels like slow progress.
Anyone else had experience of this? Tips & Suggestions would be much appreciated.”
One after another we all posted our own issues with ‘photographers block’.
Matt Holland: I think to many photographers put unnecessary pressures on themselves to produce. I haven't shot a landscape in over a month now and even though I'm in Snowdonia in two weeks’ time I will unlikely produce anything then. Enjoying the time to go do other things. Stop putting pressure on yourself and go with the flow.
Phil Starkey: I only said to Matt Watkins the other day that photographers feel they should constantly be churning out work, however, art isn't constant, and neither is life. We don't have to be doing it all the time. Take a break or try something new, but don't force it. It'll come back when it's meant to.
Matt Watkins: Phil Starkey indeed you did. I’ve had a dabble with some abstract stuff since and it’s all a bit meh.
I’m currently in Northern Spain and will be heading up to the French Atlantic coast tomorrow and to be honest, I’ve not found anything I want to photograph yet. Did get a few snaps of a pod of Dolphins on the ferry through the Bay of Biscay though.
I’m giving a short talk at an English-speaking camera club near Biscarrosse on Thursday evening and I’m hoping that one or two of the members will be able to show me around the region too. So, fingers crossed some French flair will give me the va va voom I need.
Danny Kenealy: Yeah bud I've just come through the same situation. I just out without the intention of not shooting anything and just enjoy being out. Find or start a series to keep you focused like a mini project. I've just started a new series on textures. Agree with Matt thought dont put pressure on yourself to create anything spectacular just enjoy the hobby.
Will Snelling: I’m currently in a block, when it happens, I give it a little time then go back to where I started with motorsport, can take time, but it works for me.
Andrew Yu: Hmm I think social media can be detrimental as there is a perceived amount of pressure to shoot, just shoot what you want and when you want.
Tim Monaghan: I think it’s pretty natural to have a period of "block". I tend to have it during the summer, so I naturally have a break during July and August. I think with social media people tend to feel pressure to always produce content, but, a break for me helps me "reset".
The above is just a small snippet of the responses back to Scott’s original message. But the clear message is don’t be put down by the lack of motivation, don’t try to force it either. If it isn’t happening, it isn’t happening. Enjoy the time to reset, have a break and do something different during the down time from photography. It’s not going to be a permanent lull.
Personally speaking, I am enjoying the camps and walks without the camera. Just enjoying being in the outdoors and not worrying about having to create. I know this all sounds easier said than done but if you are feeling a lack of motivation. Remember, you are not alone. Everyone photographer will have that drop-in motivation. We aren’t wired to be constantly creating, always switched on. So, stop trying to compete against social media and being always switched on.
Enjoy some the other finer things in life. Enjoy your summer of the outdoors with no camera.