W

Well not yet.  But this year – I think I came close.

This year has been very poor for me photography wise.  I know from the outside it looks very successful; This year I’ve been published numerous times, gone to fantastic places, met some wonderful photographers and gone on joint trips with some talented people.

Underlying, there have been many things that have meant that I’ve barely gotten the camera out this year – both by way of motivation and finding the time to do so.  The weather has been very poor for what I want.  Celestial events have come and gone and for many of them I’ve just shrugged my shoulders and gone “meh”.  I’ve been significantly down on the number of experiments that I’ve wanted to do.  Over the last couple of months – I’ve been unwell and hadn’t picked up the camera at all during that time.  The first time I’ve managed to pick up the camera for a long time was a bit more than a week ago.

For those few people who have been there for me over the past few months – I’m very grateful.  I’ve had some great support from some fantastic people.

I realise a lot of people do hit that motivational wall – I have a philosophy of reminding myself about the core reasons as to why I do photography; which includes ensuring that I have something creative in my life, it’s something I can always improve on and I can help others with.

WHY THE WALL

I think a common cause is people reach creative plateaus.  Photographers often tell me they feel a bit stagnant – not moving forward, but often don’t know how to move forward.  Thankfully for me, I haven’t been in this category.

Social media – both a boon and a bane.  We always have to remember that what you see on social media is only a fragment of what is going on.  Seeing other photographers’ creative expression was initially inspiring.  You can get a bit of social media fatigue.  I’ve also frequently seen people feel demoralised – thinking that they can’t compare with the quality of other photographers photos.  Only compare yourself to who you are (unless you’re specifically in a competition).

Too much noise.  I keep hearing all the time that everyone is time poor and there is too much to deal with.  Even just the fact that you’re getting a couple of hundred emails a day can feel a bit suffocating at times.

Unsolicited advice.  Some people just like to be opinionated and express it; especially with the anonymity of the internet.  I’ve seen some rather poor feedback provided to people in the past that shakes the confidence of people who are developing.  When receiving advice – consider whether you’ve asked for it and also who is it coming from.  Is it coming from someone you respect?  You can listen to other advice, but any advice is with a pinch of salt – it’s your creative vision.

GAS – (gear acquisition syndrome).  The problem sometimes with acquiring too much gear is it ends up needing Sherpas to get anywhere with it.  Taking too much gear becomes more of a chore to get the camera out.  I still like carrying a fair amount (It almost looks like I’m on an expedition when I put my f-stopper pack on) – especially due to the variety of lenses and lighting equipment that typically accompany me.  This is really where there has been a growth in the mirrorless and 4/3 market.  The best camera is the camera that you have with you.

DEALING WITH THE WALL

Everything is often easier said than done.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”  – Jim Rohn

I saw this on a photography video recently – the idea being that you spend your time with people who will improve your abilities.  When considering this, you should be thinking not only on the technical basis but also the different creative vision.

Be patient with yourself – Don’t need to shoot an epic or perfect image every time.  We frequently make a rod for our back by having high expectations for ourselves that results in us not enjoying the opportunity.

Simplify – cut down the noise.  Maybe even schedule your social media interactions.  I’ve had some email addresses for more than 20 years and am cleaning up a lot of mailing lists.  I’m sorting out various things like social media to ensure everything there is aligned to who I am.  You don’t have to do things all at once – I budget some time to do this and do it in small chunks.

Photography challenges and competitions – this sometimes works for people.  Remembering though that if you’re time poor in the first place, that you’ll need to budget time to do this.  There are so many different challenges that I won’t go through them all.  They include things like a photograph a day, 50mm challenge,

Spending time with groups – the social element can help.  Mingling with like-minded people can help at times.  Talking about different ideas and trying new things.

Having a mentor – the idea of having a mentor is to have a defined purpose for the relationship.  What do you want to achieve and the timeframes for doing so.

Well – these are a few of my thoughts on the subject.  I did hit some of that motivational wall due to things happening with me in my life and felt that I came close to hanging up the camera.  What are your thoughts?  have you had motivational issues? how did you deal with them?

Have a rock

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There are 4 comments

  1. Brianna

    I’ve been hearing from a lot of folks this year that they feel stagnant with their photography. Someone once told me that if you truly love something and want it in your life, you will make the effort to keep it there. If you can’t bring yourself to nurture it, perhaps it no longer has a place in your life. If you suddenly had a month off with no limitations or obligations, and money was of no consequence, what do you truly want to do? If photography isn’t on that list, it might no longer have a place in your life. I personally consider that sad (as I am an avid photographer who can’t go anywhere without a camera), but I also understand it happens. Sometimes all you need is a break or a change of pace. Sometimes you need to ignore the public for a while and shoot for YOU for a while. And sometimes it’s healthier to pursue other passions if this no longer brings you joy. And that’s ok, too. I hope you find your inspiration again, as I love seeing your photos. But ultimately, you don’t shoot for me or anyone else. Whatever you do, find the fun and joy, and do that 🙂

  2. Alan Cox

    Hi Michael,

    you have some very sage advice in this post and, as a fan of your work, I’m sad to hear that you’re slowing down or stopping.

    Simplify – cut down the noise. One of our mutual friends Lorraine told me the other day that she has given herself the gift of time. That is she is taking time out of her morning and afternoon for herself. This is something I believe that we all should do.

    It sounds like this is what you intend and, if it is, well done.

    The way you capture the absolute beauty of nature and the world around you is inspiring. I hope we can catchup sometime in the near future.

    All the best – Alan

  3. Kerry-Ann Lecky Hepburn

    I believe the passion and love for photography will always be there. You might just need a small break to kick start your creativity juices again.

    When you are talented and have many interests, there is so much that you may want to delve into and try to excel at. You feel guilty to branch out into something new but the thing is taking that break will help you to appreciate all that you have accomplished in photography and trust me you will be itching to go back to it eventually again. Also if the break is a long one you will be so excited to see what has advanced during your hiatus when you go back to it.

    Anyways I call it the vicious circle of the hobbies. Yes time is what we all need so we can keep going around and around. I have 3 or so intense hobbies that I love dearly that I end up cycling through. Though I never really sever ties completely with that hobby or passion, I just get a little less intense about it till my heart is ready to be back more full time with it again. Anyways that’s my perspective and I hope it helps.

    Kerry

  4. Eugene Braack

    Hey..

    Please don’t quit. Your astro (and other) photography is an inspiration to many people around the world. You have so much to teach newcomers like me about photogrpahy. I’m just starting out and I have been gazing at your photos in admiration.


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