And do you know where you want to get to?
People take up photography for different reasons and not everyone is on any kind of path with it. The camera can be just a tool to record moments so that they aren’t forgotten. But for others it’s a passion that drives them to seek continuous progress and improvement. It can be frustrating when it seems that no progress is being made, they’re stuck and can’t fathom why.
Overall, I’m pleased to say I’m not stuck at the moment. I know the direction I want to take the business forward in and roughly how I’m going to achieve it. But I do have days when I’m de-motivated, uninspired and doubting of myself. I’ve read many times that creative people are more likely to have ups and downs and self-doubt. Here’s the advice I’ve been given and the things I have learned over the years:
- Photography is about far more than the kit. You can become obsessed with having new lenses, filters, a flashgun, a tripod, gels etc and forget about the pure enjoyment that comes from creating an image. I think that’s why I’ve been so excited about my smartphone lately. It’s a wonderful piece of technology, but it makes the process of taking a picture so simple. Instead of worrying about which lens to use and setting the right aperture, I just compose and click the shutter. Of course I’m looking for great light, the right moment and I might fine tune the exposure, but it’s right back to basics and to being creative.
- Trust your intuition. If certain subjects or types of photography make you feel uncomfortable, whilst others fill you with enthusiasm, follow that emotion and go with what that make you feel good. Flash photography has always been my nemesis and I’ve felt inadequate or amateurish next to people who shoot in a ‘proper’ studio, with light boxes, umbrellas, barn doors etc. But I’ve learned that it’s my choice: if I prefer and love natural daylight, that’s fine. If I fought against my instincts and went on to use artificial lighting, I think my photography and creativity would suffer. So don’t bow to pressure or the mainstream: do what feels right, have the confidence to change things that feel wrong and you will see your photography blossom. These are not just empty, pretty words: I’ve done it.
- If you are passionate about photography, you will be immersed in it, seeing great images everywhere, judging, comparing, scrolling through Instagram. This can feel disheartening and demotivating. Stop it! I don’t mean stop looking at images, but stop comparing and just enjoy them and learn from them.
- Try new things, experiment with different techniques, but be careful not to feel bombarded with advice. If it excites you, try it but if it makes you feel inadequate, move on. It just isn’t what floats your boat.
- Surround yourself with positive people. Join a lovely, friendly and supportive photography group (Love Your Lens ;-)). Be careful whose advice you listen to. Not everyone who criticises you is right. One negative comment has the power to crush a person’s confidence. Get your validation from supportive people that you trust, to kindly suggest ways you can improve. And accept compliments and believe people when they tell you your photographs are good.