Finding yourself losing your passion for photography? Take a look at these five bits of advice to help get you get back on track
It sounds weird, but surely if you’re taking photos for pleasure, you’ve got to be enjoying it? If only it were always that way...
With all the expectations and pressures of taking photos, even when you’re just shooting for fun, they can quickly begin to take their toll. So much so that eventually, you could find yourself not getting any pleasure from taking pictures at all.
Below you’ll find some tips, derived from my own experiences, on how you can continue to enjoy your photography, even when it all starts to feel a bit too much, and no matter what life throws your way:
1 Shoot for yourself, not for "likes" or the appreciation of others
We all know how quickly and easily social media can take hold of our lives, whatever we are scrolling through. This is particularly acute with photographers, who use social media to showcase their images.
Many of the photographers in my network that I speak to and who are active on social media find themselves in a photography death spiral; one where they'll only shoot subjects or places just for the "likes" they get when posting, even if it’s a type of photography or subject they aren’t interested in. That way of working can become pretty depressing.
The best advice I can give you is to don't think of the number of likes or comments on social media as any sort of barometer for how good you are as a photographer; it simply does not matter. So shoot what you like, and post whatever you want - don’t let others dictate what it is you should be taking pictures of. The same goes outside of social media, too, don’t ever take images merely to please someone else; take photos only for yourself, that’s it.
"...don't think of the number of likes or comments on social media as any sort of barometer for how good you are as a photographer; it simply does not matter."
2 Take breaks when needed; it doesn’t matter the length of them or how regular they are
Just because you’re a photographer doesn’t mean you must have your camera with you 100% of the time. Pressuring yourself to snap away all day, every day, or putting pressure on yourself to capture the very best shots each time, will quickly drain away all the fun from taking pictures. Remember, if you miss a good photo opportunity, another one will come around again later.
Too much of anything can start to become a burden, and taking regular breaks from your photography hobby can be hugely beneficial. You’ll further appreciate the time when you are out there with your camera, you'll see new opportunities for great images with a fresher prospective, and a clear mind will also keep you focused on your photographic aims and objectives.
"Pressuring yourself to snap away all day, every day, or putting pressure on yourself to capture the very best shots each time, will quickly drain away all the fun from taking pictures"
3 Give yourself a goal or project to work towards
Over time, taking pictures without direction can feel overwhelming and unfulfilling. You could soon find that instead of reaching for your camera, you’re keeping it in the cupboard, as you won't feel excited or inspired to take pictures anymore.
An excellent way to fix this is to give yourself a project or goal to work towards, achievable but challenging; this will provide you with accountability and help you refine your skills as a photographer and create a beautiful, cohesive body of work.
Projects and goals you could undertake, for example, could be to photograph a specific place over some time, take one meaningful photo every week, create a photo book or develop a new skill like mastering the long exposure technique - there are endless possibilities, so think about what you love most about photography and create a goal towards that. For me, my love of the sea has driven my latest photography project, where I’m documenting the northern shores of the British Isles.
4 Be realistic about what you want to get from your photography (and gear your mindset towards it)
Leaving the art school bubble and facing the real world, I soon realised that I would never be a full-time photographer, creating work and living off that alone (very, very few people do this). I didn't have the time, connections back then, or resources - it was just never going to happen.
It sounds strange, but once I accepted this, it brought me a huge amount of relief. Beforehand, I was channelling all my energy into how I could "make it" as a full-time photographer. I was, frankly, miserable and getting no joy out of producing work. When I shifted my mindset and looked at my own photography differently - as something I would do compliment my career rather than a full-time venture - I was no longer under pressure to create work to pay my bills, and I began to enjoy taking pictures once again.
I’m not saying that my scenario will be the same as yours, moreover, take it as an example. Being realistic about what is possible and what isn't possible with your photography can be transformative in your approach and enjoyment of taking pictures.
"Facing the real world, I soon realised that I would never be a full-time photographer... once I accepted this, it brought me a huge amount of relief."
5 Engage with the photography community
Being part of a photography community - whether that’s among friends, part of a course, a Facebook group or a camera club - sharing your passion for taking pictures with others will provide you with a beautiful support network that will keep you going through the good and the bad.Don’t be afraid to regularly discuss your work, ask questions, and seek out constructive feedback; it’s very easy for photography to become a lonely venture and being part of something bigger can feel far more fulfilling.