Many creatives suffer from a bit of a loss of inspiration in the winter months. The weeks before Christmas are usually not as quiet and peaceful as you would like them to be and on the first day of the New Year you find yourself with a list of New Year's Resolutions without the energy to stick with them.
In situations like that it is pretty hard to get the creative juices flowing again. If you wait until after Christmas, your battery will probably be running low and that is not the right time to get fresh ideas for the new year. So, how can you start the new year without feeling you and your camera need to go into hibernation? Well, you start to think about the things that could spruce up your photography now. Don't wait until you're exhausted to start thinking about this, chances are you are going to be much harder on yourself in a state of exhaustion.
So, I suggest that you dive into your photography wishlist now. Create one...Not the kind of list on which you put Camera A or Z, Lens Q or W, Location XYZ, but a list with things that you can stick to without having the excuse that you do not have the right camera, lens or that you can't go to that bucket list location. Start from where you are. Your starting point will be you...
I am giving you 10 ideas that will help you kickstart your photography in 2019.
1. Find your benchmark. What I mean by this is simply to find your best 10 pictures of 2018 (not those that got the most likes, not those that proved popular, but those you consider to be your best) and ask yourself which pictures you want to be your new benchmark and how you would like to see these pictures evolve or how you could improve on these.
2. Find a project. Projects are great to keep you motivated and they are a tremendous help in improving your photography. This is also very important if you are a professional photographer working for others. A personal project will keep fueling inspiration and will keep you from losing your passion. Find something that you are passionate about and make it into a project. It could be something simple like a colour, a location that is special to you, black and white photography, the changes of one spot through the seasons or choose one subject that you'll be photographing throughout the year.
3. Try something new! It is easy to get stuck in one niche and never move out of it, but I have found through the years that trying another kind of photography or creative project can lead to dramatic improvements in your own niche. I have done this throughout my more than 20 years of being a professional artist. I continuously take classes in niches that are not my own and some of them are not even remotely similar to what I am doing. The thing is that this helped me develop as an artist. I took painting classes, sculpting classes, drawing classes and of course 20 years of photography classes in every kind of niche you can imagine. Yes, I found out that portrait photography is not my cup of tea, but I still learned a lot from the portrait photography masterclasses that I took and I use what I learned in my work every single day.
4. Stop comparing to others. This is really important....Just stop comparing. Let's not all want to be the same, let's not all want to take the pictures of someone else. Let's just have complete faith in our own creative abilities. As soon as you start trusting your own potential and your own vision, you will see that your work will become more unique. Compare to where you came from, compare to the pictures you took a year ago and see where the path is leading you.
5. Pick a mood....This can of course turn into a project, but this is also something that can inspire you on a daily base. Take something non-tangible like a mood and make it your starting point. I don't know if any of you are familiar with art journaling, but many art journal pages are made to express emotions and moods. I have always found this fascinating. As many of you know my work is themed around stillness in a world of wonder. Everything starts there, which is why I hardly ever have people in my pictures, except when they help convey the mood. Everything I do is about this mood that I am looking to capture. You don't have to pick one mood, you can also depict a different mood every week or so
6. Use photography as a way of journaling...I noticed in my own life that I might have all kinds of beautiful pictures of forests, mountains, villages, Venetian Carnivals, but very few personal pictures (and I mean, very, very, very few). This is how it works for many creatives, you make and create for others and are left with hardly anything that tells the story of your life. Take pictures that tell the story of your days, of your life...make it personal.
7. Find your style! Spend some time figuring out what you want your style to be like and what your vision is. If you work from your own unique vision, your work will improve much faster than if you keep being influenced by others.
8. Decide to be playful. Experiment a lot. Find new ways of looking at things. Every time you go out to take pictures, try at least a few things that you have not done before....change things up, choose a longer or shorter shutter speed, perhaps introduce artificial light, try a different aperture, use a different lens, work with filters, etc. etc.
9. Pick one lens or focal length. Don't think you now need to buy a new lens, just pick a focal length that you already have. Maybe you have a 50mm lens or a 24 mm lens. You could also easily do this with a zoom lens. Just pick one focal length and see what you can come up with. This is something that will force you to look differently. Make it a habit of picking one focal length and take pictures with it 1 day per week or every two weeks or perhaps one entire week. At one point I decided to use a 70mm macro lens to take forest pictures for one entire month. That was a really interesting experiment. I learned a lot about every aspect of this lens and I knew all its strong and weak points by the end of the experiment and I ended up with some really nice pictures as well.
10. The a picture every day. Don't put pressure on yourself to take a perfect picture, but just take a picture every single day. You can do this for a year, but you could also decide to take a picture every day in those months that you usually don't take many pictures, which is usually the case in the grey winter months for many of us. Try to find the beauty in those grey days and take a picture every day.
I do hope this will help you stay motivated, inspired and passionate about photography in the New Year. What do you do to overcome a lack of motivation, a creative block or a loss of inspiration? Leave a comment, I'd love to hear your input