I hope all of you have had a nice and inspiring summer – whether you have had time to take time off or not (and to my friends on the southern hemisphere; I hope you have had a nice winter instead). For most of us the daily routines are now calling upon us again. I actually look forward to starting up again. At the same time I know that even though I love my work as a photographer, in the beginning it’s still hard to find motivation to break out my comfort zone and get into an inspiring and creative mode. I bet the same goes for you – even if you are not a professional photographer. Sometimes we just don’t feel like taking pictures or just don’t feel inspired.
Here is a trick that often works for me: Warming up. Particularly after a relaxing and easy-going holiday it’s a great way to get back into my picture-taking game. Athletes and dancers stretch and limber up, musicians tune up and practise before going live, so why not photographers? The idea of mental exercises or warming up may not be part of your process, but when you have a hard time connecting with you creative self, you might find that it helps.
Warming up could be literally or mentally. I know photographers who practise mental photographing all the time. When they see something that potentially would be a good picture and they are without camera, they will say the word «click» or snap their fingers. This is a physical act that helps to train them for capturing moments when they are actually working with a camera – and by that making them sharper and better photographers.
For me warming up means basically to start shooting even if I don’t feel like I am motivated. Particularly when I go out on the street; some days may feel hard to get going. So I just start taking photos, even though I know they will all end up like rejects. It’s literally a warming up period. I keep going because I know when I do this exercise at some point I suddenly shift mode and I start to see pictures again. It’s a way to get into flow again, simply by forcing myself through an initially uninspiring phase and through this initial warming up my mind starts to concentrate again. When warming up I pick up my camera and start to shoot as soon as possible – something, anything, as an icebreaker, not waiting for the perfect picture to appear for me but working up to it by limbering up my photographic muscles. My best shooting experiences meld the physical act of shooting with a mental and an emotional engagement to get to a place where I feel completely in flow. Very often I can’t just turn it on, but need to warm up to get to that place.
Maybe this could be an idea for you, when you feel uninspired or would rather put down the camera – or whatever is you tool? Or how do you break that ice barrier?