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How To Recapture Your Photographer’s Mojo

March 20, 2013 by Ian Pullen

Have you ever found yourself feeling tired and jaded about your photography? Felt that none of your photos were ending up as you pictured them? Lost the drive to even pick up a camera?

If any of these feelings about photography are affecting you, then read on as I’ll share some thoughts on how you can break out of that rut and recapture your mojo.

Camera Love
photo by Louise Docker

When you’re enjoying your photography, it can all seem so easy as you trip over different subjects and find yourself trying new ways of processing your work. At times like these, you may think it impossible that you could fall out of love with photography, yet if you speak to enough photography enthusiasts, you’ll soon find that this isn’t an uncommon affliction.

In fact, I’m writing this from a position of experience.

So what caused me to become disillusioned with my camera and find the whole experience such a grind? A 365 photo project or rather the third consecutive 365 photo project. Though the first project had been a fantastic learning experience and the second, apart from a little waiver three quarters of the way through, was also a valuable year of learning, the third was a complete grind. It coincided with a busy year of work and looking back, there were barely a dozen photos from the whole year that I’d feel sad to lose.

By the end of the project, I’d made the decision to have a break from my camera, until my wife intervened with a suggestion and that’s the first suggestion on how you can try to recapture your photographer’s mojo.

Combine Your Photography with Exercise

This was the approach that did the trick (so far anyway) for me. The great thing about this is that it ties two things together, which hopefully makes it twice as hard to break the habit and offers twice the sense of success.

It’s also a great approach for those who spend most of their day chained to a desk or lounging in an armchair with a laptop fighting for space against a cat and a Yorkshire Terrier. Not taking photographs probably isn’t going to have negative health implications, but a lack of exercise almost certainly does.

You can take this at a pace that suits you and it could be as simple as ensuring you take your camera with you while walking the dog. Alternatively going for a run or a cycle can also be ways for you to get fit while hunting out new photographic opportunities.

Photography Cycling
photo by Denis Defreyne

I’ve personally gone for the cycling option and I can assure you that there are few feelings in the world to compare with rush of success you get after jumping off of your bike and successfully managing to capture your shot while struggling against the sense of crushing tightness in your chest and rampant pins and needles down your left arm. Which does lead onto an important point. Before embarking on a new exercise program, do take time to speak to a doctor for advice on a plan to suit you.

Plan Photos as Gifts for Birthdays and Special Occasions

Gift
photo by Rina Laxa

One of the reasons photography can feel like a drag for some people is because there seems no ultimate reason for it. You take shots, you share them online with strangers and then you take more. Planning and taking photos specifically for gifts for special people in your life gives you a much greater focus on what you’re producing.

You can take a look at a calendar and work out which special occasions you want to create photo gifts for and then plan in depth, perhaps to an extent that you never have before. You can dedicate days, weeks or even months to creating a single image, concentrating on all aspects of the project, from the original concept, through to composing and lighting it, getting the processing exactly right and then presenting it in the most suitable way.

With time on your side, you can also use this as a way to learn new skills that you’ll be able to apply on an ongoing basis. Finally, it should be a good ego boost when you receive happy and positive feedback from the receiver of your unique gift.

Build a Table Top Studio

Tabletop Studio
photo by Jeff Golden

Not everyone is lucky enough to have the space to build their own studio at home, however, very few people can’t find a spare bit of table top space. Setting up a permanent table top studio is a good idea to keep you taking photos as you can turn to it whenever the urge takes you. There’s no delay getting things set up that can lead to you thinking you haven’t got the time or energy.

This could be as simple as making your own light cube with a discarded cardboard box and some table lamps. Other popular table top projects are photographing objects dropped into glass tanks of water or capturing drops of liquid, though the latter may require some more specialized equipment. While some of these may feel like cliches that you’ve seen many times, the fact that so many people repeat them does testify to to the fact that they’re fun projects.

Throw Away Your TV

Thrown Away TV
photo by Jason Langheine

If vegetating in front of the TV is a regular part of your day, why not consider using some of that time in a more positive way. Now I accept that for most, throwing the TV away for real might be a bit of an extreme step, but you could at least look at the daily schedules and work out where you could find an hour or so to turn the set off, without adversely affecting your quality of life.

So, what to do with this new found time? Exercise perhaps? Use your new table top studio? Why not just use the time to get inspired. Photography is about much more than pressing the shutter release button. You could read a book to discover new techniques to try out or browse some of the fantastic photography blogs that abound online. Time spent just browsing through some of the big photo sharing sites can also be a great way to get inspired and hopefully get excited about photography again.

Involve Other People in Your Photography

For many people, photography can be a solitary pursuit and if you’re finding it hard to get motivated, shooting on your own isn’t going to make things any easier.

You could look for a photography club in your local area and meet up with other enthusiasts. If, however, that’s a bit too formal for you, why not look to family members or friends to get involved. They don’t have to share your interest, just be up for a bit of fun. Dave Engledow has some great examples he shot with his daughter, as does Jason Lee. If you can’t conveniently borrow children, this fun idea works with older people too, as demonstrated by Sacha Goldberger and his Gran.

Your Turn To Talk

Hopefully, if you’re finding photography a bit of a struggle right now, you’ll have found something here that may help you get your enthusiasm back on track again. Without a doubt, the most important thing is to have fun and if you’re enjoying yourself, you’ll find it much easier to pick your camera up.

Please share your own tips & tricks in the comment below!

Ian Pullen

About the author: Ian Pullen

I'm an enthusiast photographer and web developer by trade, based in rural Spain. I'm interested by all aspects of photography and am constantly trying to improve my technique and try out new ideas. Find Ian on Google+.