Lack of motivation

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Adam
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#1
Hi all

Wondered if anyone experiences the same from time to time with their photography.
I seem to lately have spats of motivation to get out there and explore new places to get new photos. I usually shoot landscapes and buildings.
Even after acquiring some new kit, lately i seem to hit a plateau of getting out there. Im finding this troubling especially this time of year where there are some really good shots to be had with morning fog and red skies. I see other people's photos and think that i can never get close to the quality of some of their photos.

I work full time in quite a demanding job role and often find i use my days off to have time to myself and not run around chasing photos, let alone get up early to capture morning golden hour.
If i do get a chance, i find i dont have the patience to trawl through my shots on lightroom. I usually post the best shots to social media like Instagram but even find that a chore - only getting a small amount of feedback or response. I really am not a great lover of social media but it is a bit demotivating when you see photos with thousands of likes and photographers with thousands of followers.

I started to try selling some shots to sites like Etsy to try and give myself some extra drive but find the market for selling photos online saturated and again have had little response.

I would say my photos are of a good standard- not the best of course and i think my photography has come a long way but i am finding it difficult to find something interesting to do with my photography and get back out there when i have the energy.

Would be interesting to hear from anyone with a similar problem and how you overcame it.
 
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Chris
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#2
Unfortunately I can’t help with the how to overcome it because it is something that I struggle with. All I will say though is that it happens to us all and life seems to get in the way.

What I will say is dont stress about it, I’ve found of late that rather than trying to create a masterpiece I am happy spending time with family, keeping a camera to hand and if the moment presents then so be it. Currently I am in Cornwall on holiday and I have simply taken the camera on days out and I have taken some photos that I’m pleased with, which was a bonus to having a great time with family
 
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Gareth
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#3
I also sometimes suffer from creative block/lack of motivation etc, and like Chris says, it can happen to all of us, but don't beat yourself up about it.
(Social media? I don't do any of that, seems such a toxic place....just take photographs for you, it doesn't matter about them! ;) )

I've tried buying new gear also, and selling images on stock sites too, neither seemed to work for very long, and while I still do both from time to time, I agree that it isn't a great, long term motivator, and as you say due to the over-saturation of the stock industry, I have yet to make a single penny from it!!

What I found that did help, however, was going along to a local photography gathering/city walk a while ago.
Maybe it was the feeling of solidarity....sort of strength in numbers, because I don't feel very confident when I'm out in the city at night on my own....even though the city is Norwich....where nothing really happens!! :D
Whatever it was it was pretty good fun and I enjoyed meeting like-minded people, and it motivated me to find some new angles in the city.

I would say that meeting up with (an)other photographer(s) could inspire a different way of looking at your photography - bounce a few ideas off each other....it's something I would do more if I knew any locally (I've just joined up here, so maybe I should put out some feelers)

Good luck :)
 
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Peter
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#4
Photographic motivation is something I come to from the other end in that I seldom if ever go out to take photographs but just go somewhere that interests me and (incidentally) take photographs. There's usually a primary reason for a visit somewhere nothing to do with photography but always carrying an appropriate camera I obviously use it. Were I more single minded in my photography my results would probably be of a much higher standard but my interest would soon wane but as I have a number of other interests that photography compliments well it's currently a win win situation. Long live the dreaded record shot.
 
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droj
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#5
Wondered if anyone experiences the same from time to time with their photography.
... lately i seem to hit a plateau of getting out there. Im finding this troubling especially this time of year
Disillusionment and / or 'artist's block' are common across many spheres of practice. Not that that'll make you feel better, but at least it's not just you.

I work full time in quite a demanding job role and often find i use my days off to have time to myself and not run around chasing photos
Well there you are then, why stress about it?

... it is a bit demotivating when you see photos with thousands of likes and photographers with thousands of followers.
Some people are adept at cultivating a social media presence but to me it's a bit like selling your life, if not your soul - I wouldn't stress about that either.

I started to try selling some shots to sites like Etsy to try and give myself some extra drive but find the market for selling photos online saturated and again have had little response.
Be realistic - how much are you ever going to make from selling a few shots on the side? Not that it would be a bad thing, but how deserving of the energy input could it be when as you say you have a full-on day job?

Some of how each of us operates relates to personality type anyway, and the first thing is to be true to yourself. But as far as photography goes, it could be a good thing to cultivate an awareness of what you think you're trying to do, how it fits into the world and what its value is to you and to others. The world of photography has many strands, Done personally without commercial constraint, at it's best its an adventure.

As an antidote to fretting about your own temporary lack of purpose, soak up the work of others, not fleetingly on the Instagram or other social media model, but by really imbibing work that you find you're drawn to. Let it get to you. Allow it to be visceral. The aim isn't to think of emulating it, but to engage in a process of immersion in the world of photographic images, and expand your consciousness about it (It's alright, I'm not Timothy Leary). This can nourish your vision, but also help you gain a perspective on where you're at personally as a photographer. There's no rush!
 
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Phil
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#6
I’m not sure how anyone can help beyond saying that all artists suffer from a lack of motivation from time to time.

I do think you should have a think about where you’re looking for motivation/sense of achievement.

Why do you think a successful social media presence is a measure of quality of photography?

Why do you assume you’d be able to sell your work? There are literally millions of very good photographers who never sold a single picture.

There’s only one reason to make money from photography, that you need the money.

It sounds like your life is already full and you have a challenging career, the best use of photography in that lifestyle would be as an ‘escape’ from that world, there’s nothing wrong with pushing your quality, but don’t feel that money or ‘likes’ are a measure of success for that.
 

Nod

Krispy and Kremey
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Nod (NOT Ethel!!!)
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#8
Enjoy all aspects of your life - pretty sure it (real life) doesn't revolve round a camera so just leave it (the camera!) somewhere easy to get to and grab it when inspiration grabs you (or a sunset appears through the window etc.)
 
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Lee
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#9
Good comments here, esp from Phil.

For the past few years, I'm with someone who (doesn't take but) appreciates photography & likes getting 'outdoors'!! After finishing the restoration on my Mk1 Escort there were obviously lots of photos to take there at meets & shows etc but that has worn a little thin now in that scene. The past 12 months have been spent doing more outdoors/sunrise/sunset/coastal/landscape photography which we both enjoy. The sights, places, weather, hiking, fitness is brilliant. I'm yet to photograph it, but seeing a deer or two in front of you in a misty forest is just awesome. I'm at the stage where taking the camera with me & coming home with just a few images (or even none!) doesn't bother me any more. There's no stress (unless late for sunrise!) no worries, just a relaxed few hours.

I've got some great photos lately of very local places. You'll be surprised what you can find! A subscription to OS Maps has been well worth the money! I guess what I'm saying is, why don't you try getting out & about without the 'need' to take photos. Don't go out to take photos, go out to relax. Some of my best times have been with the A7, Voigtlander 40/1.4 & a tripod!
 
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Jay
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#10
I wonder if this is more than about photography and about your life in general - the photography being only a symptom of an issue. It might be worth taking a mental step back and looking at your whole life. Do you enjoy your job? Are you getting bogged down by it? What are your plans for the future and do you still want the same future as when you last thought about it? Should you be looking to change or adjust your job if you are finding yourself a bit desperate for personal time? Are other things in your life going how you are genuinely happy with. Just some thoughts.

Personnally I find I take more photographs than usual if I am going through insecurity.

I have also had periods of time where my brain is 'overfull' of photography thoughts and fancies a break, so I find my photography time gets filled up with other things that interest me. This can be for a few weeks or months. The longest period was around 3 years! I just accept this now (I used to worry) and I never sell off my kit as it would be too much effort and cost to get back into if I did.

Ultimately the only person who can identify your behaviour is you, so you need to dig around and think a bit.
 
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Adam
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#11
Thank you all, some very helpful insights on here and reassuring to see im not on my own. @MidnightUK Funnily enough I find my job impedes on a lot of personal time as it is often tiring and also have very busy Saturdays. I am also going through a period of attempting some self improvement, ie exercising and taking up new hobbies, expanding social circle - trying not to spend to much time on my own. Often I find balancing this overwhelming and often feel bad for not finding time for my photography. I just see it as a shame after acquiring some more advance kit to use. I think a dream of mine has always to turn it into a career but I know at this moment in time it is not practical and would likely suck the enjoyment out of it. This may be why I expect myself to commit to taking regularly.

@Phil V @GarethB Yes agreed both hit the nail on the head with social media. I try to stay off it but often feel it is the only outlet where I can get some interaction with my photography, sometimes it is nice to see some positive comments and reposts but often my photos just go up, get a few likes (rinse and repeat) and it does get boring fast. I often find certain types of images do well on social media and these are often the over edited un natural looking shots. This is what pushed me to try and sell some prints as a means of another outlet but again often find only a certain type of image attracts attention. I do tend to use photography as an escape but often find Im expected to go out chasing the sunsets, foggy mornings golden hour whenever time allows - and when I dont, find myself feeling bad for not doing so. Maybe I expect too much of myself.

@droj That sounds like a good idea. I find what frustrates me the most is that I have no discernable style and find it hard to stick to one particular type or style of photography. I guess taking inspiration from other would help that. In a way I slightly envy some photographers and online posters due to being able to have a consistent style.
 
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Jay
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#12
Funnily enough I find my job impedes on a lot of personal time as it is often tiring
We only live once and very few people must die thinking 'I wish I had spent more time at work' I would consider looking at your job options for the future.


social media. I try to stay off it but often feel it is the only outlet where I can get some interaction with my photography
I would suggest volunteering for a charity occasionally - loads of them about and hungry for social media photos:

Dog and Cat homes
Your countys Wildlife Trust
Pet rehoming / Animal rescue
Very small local bands looking for publicity

Try doing a search for
'Charity near [your location]'
on Google Maps, as if you increase the area size on the map, more will appear. Its the most effective way of searching for some things.

I did some successful photography for a local Orchard preservation group this spring. I gave up on a local gardening initiative though as they messed all the volunteers about too much. Be prepared to walk away - but shop around and you will find some of the people are really great and the projects worthwhile. Often the people who do the base level work for charities have really nice caring personalities.

Mostly I stay away from larger charities are they are basically money spinning businesses for the people in the top posts - big salaries, big cars, no personal ethics :) However they may be large enough to enable small exhibitions to use as publicity for them, or on-site displays of work the charity undertakes which might help you too, if you like to put work on display.
 
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Stu
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#13
Yeah I know where you are coming from.
Fairly new to Photography and I bought a D850 and managed to get some decent shots, although 9 times out of 10, the camera just sits there so I'm thinking a bit overkill for me at the moment.
 
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droj
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#14
the camera just sits there
Though just owning a D850 ought to be motivation enough to try and wring out some of its potential. But you do make it sound as if you bought it on a whim ...

Maybe try and review where you think your interest in photography might lead you. If you haven't much of a clue about that, then yes, it seems that you bought it too soon, and could think some more about the language of image-making, its history and all its variations.

Why a D850? You want to print big?

A funny thing is that my photographic vision is much the same whether I'm using say a phone, an MF film camera, or a dslr. Sometimes using a low-res device can free you up - go out with a Holga for a day or a fortnight. Use it purposefully but embrace its accidents.

Then ask yourself what the resultant images mean. What's their value (to you and others)? It's fine if they're just fun. Can they be more?

The thing is not to doubt what you've got, but to use it.
 
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simon ess

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#15
soak up the work of others, not fleetingly on the Instagram or other social media model, but by really imbibing work that you find you're drawn to. Let it get to you. Allow it to be visceral. The aim isn't to think of emulating it, but to engage in a process of immersion in the world of photographic images, and expand your consciousness about it (It's alright, I'm not Timothy Leary). This can nourish your vision, but also help you gain a perspective on where you're at personally as a photographer. There's no rush!
Perfectly put.
 
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Do you really want to know?
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#16
Honestly, a change of scenery is probably the best cure. Whenever you can take a weekend away to Europe or somewhere different from what you're used to.


Or if you can 1/2weeks away to a another continent!
 
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Adam
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#17
We only live once and very few people must die thinking 'I wish I had spent more time at work' I would consider looking at your job options for the future.




I would suggest volunteering for a charity occasionally - loads of them about and hungry for social media photos:

Dog and Cat homes
Your countys Wildlife Trust
Pet rehoming / Animal rescue
Very small local bands looking for publicity

Try doing a search for
'Charity near [your location]'
on Google Maps, as if you increase the area size on the map, more will appear. Its the most effective way of searching for some things.

I did some successful photography for a local Orchard preservation group this spring. I gave up on a local gardening initiative though as they messed all the volunteers about too much. Be prepared to walk away - but shop around and you will find some of the people are really great and the projects worthwhile. Often the people who do the base level work for charities have really nice caring personalities.

Mostly I stay away from larger charities are they are basically money spinning businesses for the people in the top posts - big salaries, big cars, no personal ethics :) However they may be large enough to enable small exhibitions to use as publicity for them, or on-site displays of work the charity undertakes which might help you too, if you like to put work on display.
Sounds very interesting @MidnightUK, I have just considered volunteering and that sounds great. The photographic opportunity isnt something I thought of but definitely think its worth looking into. Thanks for the info.
 
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Pete
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#18
Here's a fun thing,
"Wali Taylor, It follows our conversation in the pub a few weeks back Dave Allen, I had my camera with me and you asked what I had been photographing. I said the mundane and you said it was important that we document it."
Dave was responsible for this https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-44873510 project. So Wali started a facebook group call Photographs of the Mundane. We submit our mundain shots, they may be interesting in years to come.
Most of the original photos in the project were just mundain at the time but interesting now.

It's fun to take mundane photos.
 
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Adam
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#19
Ive given myself a bit of a break and recently found a bit more of a get up and go towards taking new shots. I now find it more of a opportunity to just go for a wonder and take pictures while im out, especially now the autumn colours are among us. Ive recently found some inspiration in taking photos of London, your nearly spoilt for choice up there with the possibilities. I find if im not religiously coming home and editing them on Lightroom that I enjoy the'just taking photos' process more.
 
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