Get Over It!

As I wrote in my last blog post, my blogging over the last year or so has been running on empty. It’s never a good feeling, feeling empty. However, all creatives will one day or another experience the well running dry. For writers it’s call writers block, but it’s no different for photographers, painters, musicians—or bloggers.

Julia Cameron, who has written the inspirational book, The Artist’s Way, calls the place from which we draw all our creative inspirations and ideas, the creative well. I like the expression and the analogue it plays with. Like a real well, sometimes it’s plenty full and we can scoop of an abundance of inspiration. At other times, it’s drained and needs to be replenished. Camero suggests treating oneself with something good and kind; if it’s just taking time to sit down in the neighbourhood café and enjoying a latte or treating oneself with a visit to an exhibition or attending a concert.

The thing is, a creative block is not a problem when you see what it actually is. It’s just you running on empty. It’s not about yourself, in the sense that you are a failure or aren’t creative enough. Creative blocks happen to us all—and there is nothing we can do to avoid them. It will happen to you.

The word block suggest that you are constipated or stuck when the truth is you are empty. I so well know from own experiences that the emptiness can destroy the creative soul, as do the shame and frustration that go with it. It can be a very depressing experience. You feel like the muses have abandoned you, or maybe just like they have given you a limited amount of creativity, maybe to do one book, or to photograph on good project, or put together a couple of handfuls of blog posts.

Just remember, they won’t last forever. Sometimes, yes, it will take time to replenish the well, but when you realize that eventually it will refill, it’s much easier not to fall head on into the empty well yourself. Accept the block and fill up the creative well again.

In her book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott writes: “We have all been there, and it feels like the end of the world. It’s like a little chickadee being hit by an H-bomb. Here’s the thing, though, I no longer think of it as block. I think that is looking at the problem from the wrong angle. If your wife locks you out of the house, you don’t have a problem with your door.”

Her solution is acceptance—which is something we’re taught not to do. We are taught to improve on uncomfortable situations, to change things, alleviate unpleasant feelings. But if you accept the reality that you have been given—that you are not in a productive creative period—you free yourself to begin filling up again.

As Lamott points out: “I encourage my students at times like these to get one page of anything written [Lamott is a writer and have taught writing], three hundred words of memories or dreams or stream of consciousness on how they hate writing—just for the hell of it, just to keep their fingers from becoming arthritic, just because they have made a commitment to try to write three hundred words every day. Then, on bad days and weeks, let things go at that.”

Her advice is applicable for all creative activities and all kinds of blocks.

In the beginning, when you are first starting out with some creative endeavour, there are a million reasons not to create, to give up. That is why it’s of extreme importance to make a commitment to finish sections or parts of whatever you are doing, to driving through to the finish. The discourage voice hound you—“this is nothing but a pile of shit”. What you are doing may just be practice. But this is how you are going to get better, and there is no point in practicing if you don’t finish.


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My Community

About a year ago, I decided to downsize my social engagement, included—among other platforms—my blog writing. This blog. Back then, I was running a bit on empty, and needed a break from what more and more had become an obligation—instead of the joy it once was when I started out with my blog for more than ten years ago.

The intention was not to withdraw completely, but rather to step down and just spend less time on social media, included this blog. However, I quickly lapse to just barely being able to keep my blog alive. Those of you who have followed my blog—and still have the patience to do so—will undoubtedly have notice the cut back.

I needed the break, and it’s been good for my mental health to lay low for a while. Nevertheless, I’d have to admit I have missed the regular contact with many of you in the blog sphere.

What I am saying, is that I am ready for a “come back”. It will be a slow comeback, and I don’t know what form it will take. It might not necessarily result in more posts, but I certainly will be more engaged again and go into the blog writing with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

Part of the reason I wanted to downsize my blogging commitment last summer, was the need to focus more on my professional activity as a photographer and creative artist. I felt my work had gotten stuck in an eddy, not progressing any more. I was not doing what I was passionate about any longer and I needed to infuse my professional life with exactly that again. Passion. That which I am passionate about.

That has always been my cue for any direction I have chosen, professionally or otherwise. Particularly the former (whatever I do for pleasure, is, of course, mostly pleasurable anyway). I believe in finding a way to enjoy and thrive with the work you do. Not only for money, but also for fulfilment of one’s life goals or desires. This last year, in fact longer than that, I have pushed myself out of the eddy I felt I had succumbed to. Now, I feel more inspire than in a long time, and I do more inspiring work again.

As part of my “recovery” or push forward, I have read a lot about creativity, psychology, self-efficacy, and other relevant literature. I always read a lot, but this time my reading has been more focus on these themes. One of the books I found particularly inspirational was Creative Calling by the renowned photographer and entrepreneur Chase Jarvis. He writes about his four steps—IDEA—to create a fulfilling, creative life. It starts with Imagine your big dream, what you want to become in life. Then you Design a practice that supports that dream. The third step is to Execute on your ambitions plan and make you vision real. Finally, you Amplify your impact through a supportive community.

This may sound a little too vague or generic, but Jarvis does a good job in making his thoughts concrete and executable. In fact when reading the book, I realized that for most of my life, his four steps are pretty much describing my own path. Nevertheless, I still learned a lot and was inspired to push myself even further.

What more is, I particularly found that I have not been good enough at practising the fourth step. In my whole life, I have pretty much believe in my own doing. I push myself, I mostly create by myself, and I have mostly developed my business by myself. However, reading Creative Calling, I realized I could have gained a lot by being more open for collaborative interaction.

As Charvis writes: “We’re are all social animals. We thrive on human connections. Creators aren’t exempt from this need. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you get through the tough spots with the support and inspiration of people who ‘get you’. Your community.”

His point is if you are walking the path towards your dreams, but getting nowhere, go find communities of other human beings who are passionate about the same things you are and get involved. Roll up your sleeves. Participate. Collaborate. And don’t hold back.

This leads me back to my blog. I need to get back to my community. You. Among others, of course. When I look back at my blogging, it has precisely been a place I could discuss and exchange ideas with people of my kind, creative human beings. So, it’s about time to reconnect and enjoy the human connection again.

Be a Channel

In photography, as in any creative endeavour, the best we can do to ourselves is not forcing the creative process in order to become better, pushing our creative voice into an artificial direction or somehow become original. None of this will do us any good.

I believe we all, as artists, strive to become recognized or hope our work will be inspirational for others or that we one day will acquire some kind of mastery that translates into a personal expression. I see nothing wrong with such aspirations. That can be a good drive for expansion and growth. When such aspirations take a wrong turn, is when they become the goals in and of themselves, when we try to force ourselves into something that isn’t coming naturally to us. That is when we turn ourselves away from life in the hope of making our creation into a brilliant star. All, but futile.

If instead of seeing creativity as something we need to squeeze out of ourselves, something we have to invent or something we are responsible for, if rather we see ourselves as channels for the muses or inspiration outside of ourselves or whatever you like to call it, the act of creating becomes a more fluid process. It becomes a process that we no longer charge with self-consciously guarding.

I often find my ego gets in the way. I want to take my photographs. As if that is the most important part of my immersion into photography. I the creator. Often, though, instead of going out to photograph, I start to doubt myself. The ego wants to stay put where it has always been. New adventures, new ideas, new anything, is challenging for the ego. But that’s exactly what creating means. So, often when I am about to go out and photograph I hear this internal voice “it’s no point”, “you won’t find anything”, “I don’t have time”, “I don’t have a unique voice”, “I am no good”, and so on and so forth. Writers call it writer’s block.

If we rather see our creating as channelling, we become charged with being available to whatever is channelling through us. To the degree that we can set the ego aside, we can then create freely. We turn into a stream of inspiration. We allow it to flow through us. We become an “open channel”.

“The music of this opera (Madame Butterfly) was dictated to me by God. I was merely instrumental in getting it on paper and communicating it to the public”.

Those are the words of the composer Giacomo Puccini. Many an artist back in those days attributed their creations to God. I am not a believer of any godly realm myself, but I see all this as acknowledgement of channelling. Channelling gives us a gate or conduit to something outside of our conscious self, and to let this, whatever we call it—the unconscious, the superconscious, the imagination or the muse—to talk to us. Thus, being creative gives us a place to welcome more than the rational. It opens the door to inspiration.

Viewed this way—as a form of contact with something larger than ourselves—creating does not remain an ego-centred activity we are doing by our brilliantly selves. It does not remain something that must be protected from life. It becomes, instead, a part of life, a cooperative pas de deux rather than a star turn.

It is possible to create out of the ego. It is possible, but it is also painful and exhausting. Ego wants to take credit. “This is my creation”. But then it starts to flood the consciousness with all the flaws and lack of originality in whatever you create and raises fear in you, that whatever you are doing isn’t good enough. Perfect is the only standard for the ego.

If we see creativity as channelling, creativity is no longer our business. It is given, not something to be aspired to. It is, instead, a natural function of our soul. When we open ourselves to something greater than ourselves working through us, we paradoxically open ourselves to our own greatest selves.

When Stealing Is OK

Pat O'Rourke og Otto von Münchow på tur i Olympia

In a couple of post last year, I have brought up some thoughts about what it takes to develop as a photographer. In Starting with the Box I made a point of needing both creative thinking and learning the craft. And in the post Become a Better Photographer, one of the advices I suggested was looking to other photographers.

Let me take this a step further. Because what better way to develop your photography, both inspirationally and technically, than to learn from other photographers? To push it even further: Steal from any photographer whose work you like. Yes, steal (and this goes not only to photographers but to all creatives). I know, you have been told that steeling is bad and dishonest. But stay with me a little longer.

My point is that we all learn from each other. And how do we learn? By stealing. All artists steal from each other. As the singer and songwriter David Bowie put it: “The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from.” Anyone working creatively—any artist—asks; where do you get your ideas? The honest answer is; I steal it. In the delightful and very inspiring book Steal Like an Artist, the artist and writer Austin Kleon puts it bluntly: “When you look at the world this way [that all ideas comes from stealing], you stop worrying about what’s ‘good’ and what’s ‘bad’—there’s only stuff worth stealing, and stuff that’s not worth stealing. Anything is up for grabs.”

The thing is; nothing is really original. Everything has already been done—as I wrote in my post Originality long time ago. The point is: what makes something different and yours, is your take on it. Yes, steal, but add yourself in the process. Or steal to learn before you are able to impose your own vision on it, and then start make you own expression of an old idea.

The writer Jonathan Lethem has said that when people call something “original”, nine out of ten times they just don’t know the reference or the original sources involved. What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before.

The filmmaker Jim Jarmusch puts it this way: “Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that, which speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.”

Austin Kleon suggests that you collect all, which inspires you in a scrapbook. Thoughts, phone calls, favourite passages out of books, and cut and past things you see around you that speak to your soul. See something worth stealing? Put in the scrapbook. Then use this book when you need inspiration.

At the end of the day, what this leads up to is getting around the simple fact that nobody is born with a style or a voice. We don’t come out of the womb knowing who we are. In the beginning, we learn by pretending to be our heroes. We learn by copying—by stealing. I am talking about practice here, not plagiarism—plagiarism is trying to pas someone else’s work off as your own. Copying is about reverse-engineering. It’s like a mechanic taking apart a car to see how it works.

At some point, you’ll have to move from imitating your heroes to emulating them. Imitation is about copying. Emulating is when imitation goes one step further, breaking through into your own thing. Then you start to ask the question, what can you add—that only you can add—that makes it different?

All artists think and has worked like this. “We want you to take from us. We want you, at first, to steal from us, because you can’t steal. You will take what we give you and you will put in your own voice and that’s how you will find your voice. And that’s how you begin. And then one day someone will steal from you.” That’s the words of the great filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola.

So: Steal. But add yourself into the process! Eventually.

By the way, if you feel like you are running out of ideas and are in a creative rut, I strongly recommend the before mentioned book Steal Like an Artist. It’s a quick read and full of positive energy.

Three Photographers. One Week. One City

The passed week I spent in Naples, Italy. The purpose: nothing but photograph people of the city. Once before, I have been in Naples. It’s a hectic and chaotic city, with proud inhabitants. Although such a description fits many, if not all cities, in Italy, Naples is more so than any other I have visited up through the years.

I didn’t travel alone this week. We were three photographers who had decided to make Naples into a common photo project. We arrived respectively from Sweden, Germany and Norway (me that is). At times, we photographed side by side, all three of us, or only two. At other times we photographed on our own.

Being three on such a photo project is both inspiring and pushes each of us to do more than we maybe would have done single-handedly. It’s something about the energy in a group, the group dynamics and maybe also a little competition between the three of us. The latter however, wasn’t more than we respected each other when shooting together, and helped each other whenever that was needed.

I have noticed with amazement before, when photographers photograph next to each other, how different they (or we in this case) see the world and capture it in the images. Even when standing side by side, the photos come out quite differently. And often I saw one of my colleagues and friends photograph something I thought would be rather boring or uninteresting, only later to see an astonishing result. We all have our independent, well developed vision and voice. Experiencing this is maybe the most inspiring part of photographing together during a week such as this.

Apart from the photographic experience, it was not the least good to be able to be on the road again. For two years travelling has been quite limited, if not nonexistent. Being able to travel again feels like being liberated.

Here I have posted some of the images I captured during the week in Naples.

Book review: The Mindful Photographer

This is an abbreviated version of the review. Here you’ll find the full version.

It’s with great pleasure I have read The Mindful Photographer. It’s the latest book by David Ulrich and takes a different route on photography than most photo books. It explores in depth the relationship between the photographer and the world he or she photographs.

This is not a book so much about the practicalities of the craft, but rather about the thinking behind the execution of the craft. It’s about the need to be mindful about the approach in order to capture images that goes beyond the superficial and beyond the quest for simply high impact imagery without any deeper connotations or connections, so prevailing in the popular photography—according to the author.

The Mindful Photographer emphasizes being open to the subject and being present in the moment. Many of the ideas in Ulrich’s book can help the reader to forge a dialogue with the world and culture through a camera. At the same time, and maybe even more so, he advocates the need to know yourself—as fully as possible and in an ongoing manner. As he writes, “all art is a dialogue between oneself, one’s materials, and the world. It is often a journey with only a hazily defined destination.”

The writing resonate very much we my own approach and how I have come to think about photography. It doesn’t mean I am in agreement with all Ulrich’s writes. The fact that I disagree with Ulrich on some of his thoughts, strengthens the value of his writings and makes for a much more constructive and comprehensive reading experience. Because we sometimes disagree, reading the book turns much more into a conversation between the two of us.

Having said that, some readers will most likely reject Ulrich’s approach to photographing. He draws a lot from a Zen way of life, and I am sure a few will not feel comfortable adopting the tenets of an eastern religion to their photography.

Nevertheless, if you feel provoked by his philosophy and his writing, I still believe reading the book would or could be beneficial—if you don’t reject it without giving his thoughts any consideration. One doesn’t have to agree, but going in a dialogue with his ideas might enlighten the understanding of yourself and make you become more mindful about your own approach to photography.

Ulrich’s writing and style at times feels high-flying, esoteric and a little wishy-washy. He is at his best when he is concrete and writes about or draw upon his own experiences and practice, rather than expressing overarching, spiritual ideas in what I see in somewhat bloated and bulging terms.

Sometimes I also have a problem with his ethical standpoints, not that I actually disagree with his values, but the way he raises them to universal truths. Take social media, he is very critical of them and how many people use for instance Instagram. Again, I totally agree with his sentiments, but I still think his moral enforcement and his disregard for other values than his own ethical drive, sway how others may approach social media and what justifies their use.

Despite some objections on my part, The Mindful Photographer is a book I can truly recommend. It’s inspiring, it brings a deeper understand to the connection between the photographer and his or her approach to photography and what it can be, and, as the title indicates, it empowers the way to think about photography. In the end, it will make you a better photographer.

Buy The Mindful Photographer at Amazon
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Learn to Live with Self-Doubt and Fear

Self-doubt. Fear. Insecurity. Inadequacy. Not being good enough. Marginalization. Disempowerment. Depression. Despair. Cynicism. Egotism. Have you ever felt your artistic attempts are not good enough? You feel you lack talent and can’t express what you really want?

Trust me when I say we all do. Even the best and most talented artists do. It’s part of being creative and as such, I believe it’s actually a good sign. If you didn’t doubt yourself and your creative attempts, it only shows that you are standing still and not challenging yourself. As I have written many a time, challenging yourself is crucial for all creative development.

Here is the thing: Trying to express ourselves creatively in any art form, will place us squarely in the sights of our fears, doubts, and insecurities. It reflects back to the inherent quality of any creative art and their insistent necessity on going inward. Remember, in art, we express ourselves. Our only hope to be successful in art, any art form, is to learn to be unerringly what we are, flaws and all. We cannot destroy our demons all at once, but can accept our circumstances as part of our unique identity.

Everything that you are is fodder for your creative work. Do not run; do not hide from your gifts, your shortcomings, and your background. Make them part of your creative approach.

Each of us arises from our own blend of circumstances and has unique gifts. There is nothing new under the sun to art. Therefore, your unique vision and expression can only grow authentically from yourself. There’s no one else on earth with your particular mixture of talents, gifts, obstacles, fears, inadequacies, and unique insights.

Words from the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke comes to mind. In his book Letters to a Young Poet, he writes: “You are looking outward, and that above all you should not do now. Nobody can counsel and help, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you to write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart.”

From this quote, you can substitute “write” with any artistic pursuit that refers to you. Go into yourself, no matter what you do. With that comes self-doubt and fear. But it’s part of who and what you are.

Thus, take a hold of your vision. It’s yours and yours alone. Don’t try to be good, just try to be real. Each person has some genuine place of genius in their constitution, and you are not going to find it by trying to please others: teachers, parents, admission committees, or peers. Trust your own process. Take responsibility for everything that you are or are not. Your joys, struggles, trials and tribulations, longings, obsessions, and passions are all fair game for your creative exploration.


Photo Workshops and Tours in 2022
Now that the world seems to return to some normalcy and slowly opens up again, I and Blue Hour Photo Workshops hope to get our photos workshops going again.

“The Personal Expression”—a weekend in Bergen, Norway with focus on how to develop your personal, photographic expression. June 10th to 12th 2022.

”Telling Stories with the Camera”—five days in the beautiful village of Bleik in Northern Norway. A dream spot for any photographer. The focus will be on storytelling and the visual language. September 21st to 19th 2022.

”Photo Tour in Granada”—a week in Nicaragua for the adventures. We will explore the colonial city and its extraordinary countryside. November 5th to 11th 2022.

Are you interested in developing your photographic skills? Do you like to travel? Do you want to make your photos tell a story in a much stronger vocabulary? Find your own expression? Develop your vision and become more creative? Any of these workshops would take your photography to the next level. I promise you, you will be in for an amazing experience. Click any of the links for more info.

Creativity Is Being Alive

Have you pondered about why you have this desire to create? In asking, I take it you are pursuing creativity in one form or another—otherwise you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog. I also presume you find some pleasure in creative endeavours, again, in whatever shape and form you fancy.

Plenty enough people think that art and creativity is for pleasure only. It’s something some people do when they have enough time to spare and don’t need to brawl for survival. It’s an activity out of luxury. Those who create do it for some pretentious urge of self-expression. These people may think the world would go on without art and creativity for its own sake.

I think not. I think being creative satisfies a basic instinct in most people—if they haven’t shut that door completely down. Yes, biologically, our basic needs are threefold and quite mundane. Being able to find food, having a habitat to thrive in and, finally, being able to reproduce. However, there is more to life than these bare needs. One such is the drive to make.

When I create, I am happy. But it’s more than that. I feel in touch with something bigger. I immerse myself in a sea of ideas and inspirations and a void of unlimited wonders—a path in which nothing is fixed or set. Everything is possible. What more is, something tangible comes out on the other side. In creating, I make something, something of which is all my making. It makes me feel alive. I live when I make.

Why are human beings driven to make?


There is a mundane answer, which is we need to expand and develop—which we do by making—in order to survive the threatening world we find ourselves in, whether back when we were hunter-gatherers and needed to protect ourselves from saber-toothed tigers or now as the contemporary human needing to solve the climate crisis (albeit induced by ourselves).

But there is something more fundamental to it.

Since the beginning, the universe has bend towards entropy—ever more chaos and disorder. Every act of creation on our part is an act of defiance in the face of that evolving disorder. It’s almost like an intuitive response, long before science gave us the language to understand what universe and entropy mean.

When we pick up a paintbrush, or compose elements through our camera viewfinders, or press fingers into wet clay to wrestle form from a shapeless lump, we are bending things back toward Order and wrestling them from Chaos.

There is satisfaction in making this Order. But making things is often not enough in and of itself.

We also want the things we make to be filled with meaning. We’re each trying to describe what we know about life, to create a collective sense of “safety in numbers.” When we reach the end of our traditional descriptive powers, it’s time to weave meaning from poetry, painting, writing, dancing, photographing, filmmaking, storytelling, singing, animating, designing, performing, carving, sculpting, and a million other ways we daily create Order out of the Chaos and share it with each other for a deeper and more fluid understand.

Finding “the meaning in the making” is the ultimate fulfilment. That’s bliss and that’s when we feel alive more than ever. Thus, keep creating!

Keep Creating!

In times like this, particular right now, the world needs your inspiration through whatever it is you create. Yes, we need inspiration, something that will give us hope—your art, your writing, your music, your photography, your painting—again whatever it is you create. You can make a difference, not by doing anything out of the ordinary, but through whatever it is, you create.

So keep creating.

I know it is difficult to keep the creativity flowing in bleak times like this. We’d all rather feel like cover up under a blanket or go in hiding, just let things get better and wait the situation out. But I know you have it in you, you are a creative person, after all, you are reading this blog, so please bring whatever it is you create into the world.

You have this gift and it’s full of light and love and wisdom but the thing itself is worth nothing until you make it happen and then give it away. The making and the giving of it is the only thing that allows the gift to keep moving. It is the only thing that prevents that light and love and wisdom and grace from damming up inside you—and in all of us.

You may feel like you are running on empty. The world is hanging on its hinges, whether we look at it with respect to the political situation in many countries, the climate, and of course—and not the least—the pandemic that more than anything inhibits us right now. But don’t let it inhibit you from creating.

We need your art. This world needs your art. But most of all we need you. More than ever, we need people who are vulnerable and compassionate and see things differently and are willing to be as fully, brilliantly human as possible, and it is making your art and having the courage to give it forward that will make you so.

Don’t worry about whether it is good or not. It is good. Because you have made it with passion and love—and that passion and love will transcend to all of us.

It’s a new year. Blank pages. Let’s not let the pandemic be what fills these pages. Let’s live. Let’s inspirer each other. Let’s create. I wish you all the best for 2022.


Photo Workshops and Tours in 2022
In believing that the world will return to some normalcy and open up again within reasonable time, I and Blue Hour Photo Workshops plan a handful of photos workshops for this year.

“The Personal Expression”—a weekend in Bergen, Norway with focus on how to develop your personal, photographic expression. June 10th to 12th 2022.

”Telling Stories with the Camera”—five days in the beautiful village of Bleik in Northern Norway. A dream spot for any photographer. The focus will be on storytelling and the visual language. September 21st to 19th 2022.

”Photo Tour in Granada”—a week in Nicaragua for the adventures. We will explore the colonial city and its extraordinary countryside. November 5th to 11th 2022.

Are you interested in developing your photographic skills? Do you like to travel? Do you want to make your photos tell a story in a much stronger vocabulary? Find your own expression? Develop your vision and become more creative? Any of these workshops would take your photography to the next level. I promise you, you will be in for an amazing experience. Click any of the links for more info.

Become a Better Photographer

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I have been pondering about what it takes to become a real good photographer. I mean everyone can capture a decent photo – particularly with today’s cameras that take care of the basic handling. However, to make your photography stand out requires a bit more than just having a camera. The question is, how can we make that transition happening? Yes, understanding and learning the craft is maybe one springboard, but it can only take you this far. The difference between good photography and photography that stands out is subtle, but at the same time makes a substantial difference. As mentioned, I believe everyone can take a good photograph if they just put a little energy into the process. But the next step, how do we get there?

It’s actually not that difficult, either. Yet, it takes commitment and finding a way to connect with you inner self – and finally make that wisdom be expressed through your photography. I know, it sounds a little phony, but it’s quite how it works. There are no simple tricks, really, but just dedicated steps towards mastering photography at a more profound and more personal level. As with everything else in life, we are talking about making priorities, that is, if you really decide to become an accomplished photographer – and this decision gets ingrained in your backbone, then you can become just that, a photographer who creates captivating and even outstanding photography.

The obstacles, of course, are that it takes time, effort and sometimes even money to make such a commitment. In addition, it follows that you’ll need to downgrade other things in life, often things that you care about, things that you enjoy, or just things that simply is easier and more pleasurable to do. The difference between a photographer who creates outstanding photography and one who merely captures good photos, may be that former is the one that works relentlessly and don’t mind standing in muddy water for hours – figuratively speaking. Nevertheless, we can all make progress, and he are a few steps that can help you on the way:

Look to other photographer. Read photography books, go to exhibitions, watch other photographers’ work and find photography online. Surely, there is going to be a lot you will not like, but the point of this is just to find photos and photographers that inspire you. Bury yourself in what you find inspiring and that which gives you energy, whether it is workshops, photo books, exhibitions or anything else. Whatever it is, see as much photography as you can find in any media or outlet, and immerse yourself in it.

Work on a personal project. Nothing brings your photography so much energy and is pushing yourself more than working on a personal photo project. But keep in mind, complete freedom is not inspiring. Instead, set some limits you will have to stick with. Find yourself a project or even a couple of projects, and work within the limits you have set for yourself. Do not be tempted to expand the boundaries simply because it is easier and more relaxing. For something really good to come out of your photography, it must have a core of authenticity and a nerve that is being expressed in the work. That is something you won’t get through boundless and leisurely respite. A project can be done in a weekend or it can take years to accomplish. The theme is not important – as long as it somehow touches or is relevant to you.

Care for more than the photography itself. Remember, photography is a tool, not an end in itself. A tool must be used for something. Whether your goal is an art expression or to tell a story, that goal must be foremost in your thoughts, not photography as such. Some of the world’s best photographers do not see themselves neither as photographers nor as artists: James Nachtwey is primarily a social reformer, and the same can be said about Nick Ut, W. Eugene Smith, Sebastião Salgado and several other of the world’s foremost documentary photographers. This also applies to many of the world’s greatest art photographers, but in a different way. They often choose to turn to the world and the viewer differently, but the desire to tell, ask questions, provoke thoughts, to make the viewer smile, react and feel alive, remain the same.

Seek cultural experiences. Cultural impulses are important, even more so it’s important not only to seek impulses from the same field you feel familiar with. The Matrix films would never have come into being without the inspiration from cartoons and their idiom, and the same applies to famous and beautiful movies like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and Sin City, just to name a few. Photographers such as David LaChapelle are possible largely inspired by film and music, and others are inspired by literature, sculpture, painting or numerous other artistic expressions and cultural forms. Keep an open mind, take your pick and expose yourself to different concepts, cultures, thoughts and impressions. Somewhere in there, you might just find your brilliant idea, which you would never know exactly how in advance.

Photograph a lot and often. It takes a lot of work to master a discipline such as photography. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect – no less true in photography. What you do a lot, you will excel in, and although 99.9 percent of your shots might end up being trash, in the process you have trained your eyes, brain and finger. Moreover, taking 1000 photos of which 0.1 percent is good, well, then you have gotten at least one good shot. Not bad at all, or?