After moving to Halifax, starting a new job and not really getting a chance to fully settle in (we're painting some of the rooms before we finish unpacking, makes more sense than having to cover all our stuff later on), I'm not feeling very inspired to get out with the camera. Add to that our financial situation which will likely require us to sell our car. For at least the next year, I'll be without a vehicle, which might just hinder my photographic exploration of the city we just moved to.
I'm not feeling all that great for the future of my photography right now.
Enter The Grid, a photography talk show hosted (usually) by Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski, two photographers, instructors and writers from the Tampa, FL area. Last week's episode, entitled When Inspiration Fails You is a pretty interesting discussion of how to keep yourself inspired even when you really don't have an inspiring idea, subject, location etc.
The truth is, the bulk of the time I spend working on a project is not inspiring. I'm inspired to start a personal project, or to have a new idea that really makes me want to get out and get some pictures, but usually I'm not someone that maintains an unrealistic level of stimulus on a long-term basis.
For me, the secret is my drive to get better, to learn something new or to try a crazy new technique. There are loads of things to compare this to, but my own experiences with playing guitar really resonate with me.
I played in a band for three years, doing mostly cover songs and going through different members. I would spend quite a bit of time each week trying to get better at a guitar solo, perfect a rhythm part, or figure out a vocal harmony so I'd be ready for the next practice/gig. Realistically, I wasn't inspired most of that time. A new song was sometimes a great motivator, but that was not always the case. I loved every minute of it, and I grew immensely as a musician and artist through the practices, but I didn't really get inspired so much as I learned how to just settle in and work on my craft.
I think that's what I'm going to need to do now. I have to get a strategy in place, figure out what sort of photography I really want to pursue and work toward it. Inspiration or not, I am passionate about taking pictures, so I'd best get myself out there in this new market I've found and meet some new people, create some new works and keep growing.
For those interested, I've included my notes from The Grid. All quotes are not direct quotes, merely my takings from watching the show. I enjoyed hearing some of the interested discussion regarding Photo a Day/365 projects, and how they impact you as a photographer.
not the source for why you do what you do
It is always tough to keep up a hobby, much the same as blogging, etc.
to Jeremy: how much of the time are you inspired?
Commercial assignments - 70 to 80% not inspired
reality of the situation: inspiration is for amateurs.
Creativity is what I do from 9-5.
sometimes the shoot doesn't give you what you want.
-bad subject (not into it, hard to get her into it)
Where do you go to get inspiration?
Don't expect that you have to share all your work. Don't just shoot to share on Facebook/500px.
Jeremy: The only things that go on my site are works that are unique, different, favorites.
photo a day?
Jeremy: Good idea, great to have creative thinking every day. I certainly don't think you should show all that work. But, if you're doing stuff that you want to do more often it's a great project.
RC: 365 projects: A fat guy doing jumping Jacks. Train wreck of everything moving everywhere.
at the end of the day, you have to have an end result, and sometimes the stuff in the middle isn't the best stuff to show. It is completely okay for you to not show a photo.
Matt: Never really cared for photo a day. BUT, Jay Maisel said you don't get good at swimming by practicing every couple weeks. You have to do it every day. What I don't like: you don't have to post all of it.
RC: Staying inspired: sometimes you can maintain inspiration by having great technique (think guitar). can you change all your settings without taking your eye off the veiwfinder? How is your post-processing? There are loads of other things to do that will encourage growth and simplify the inspiration process.
Pete: How can I bring something new to the table? What is it that I have that no one else does? connections, location, who I am?
Tired of one medium? Have you really turned that medium on it's head? Have you really tried to learn the whole medium as thoroughly as you are capable?
Non photographic sources of inspiration:
Other hobbies? Looking at other people's work. You will likely get ideas, or you could make a collection called "photos I would like to take". Either way, when you do this, you'll take those photos and something of your own will shine through. Developing your own style is natural from this type of process.