Getting back into Photography:
Breaks in photography can happen. They may happen for many different reasons; perhaps you feel as though you’ve hit a plateau in your work, your motivation has deteriorated, or life has thrown some things your way that demand more attention.
Sometimes a break can’t be helped and in other cases a break may even be beneficial to your photography.
When it comes to picking your camera back up again you may feel confident in getting back into the game, or hesitant and anxious about somehow having managed to ‘lose’ your skills.
So how do you get back into it?
Having taken quite a long break myself over the past few months for several reasons, (1. Moving countries. 2. Moving houses 3. Coronavirus pandemic restrictions) I found the best thing to do first was to plan.
Creating a youtube video: ‘Getting back into photography’ helped me do this, but it can easily be done without spending time and effort trying to get b-roll in between rain showers. So, what plan what?
1: YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY GOALS:
What do you want to achieve? What do projects do you want to start or pick back up?
There is nothing wrong with a bit of spontaneity but giving yourself some idea of the direction you want to head in, and what you want to shoot will help to get your motivation in gear. Even if you are picking back up a project, look back at what you have achieved and decide how you will move on to complete it. This is all completely up to you and you have the freedom to be as creative and wild as possible.
My own plan is to work on local landscape and nature photography. Due to the coronavirus pandemic it’s not currently possible to travel. But, I think that diving straight into locations with intense hikes or hours of travelling will only result in a self-inflicted pressure to come away with an image that was worth it. Sometimes it's a good idea to build up the momentum. Start small but dream big.
Since I moved to a new area that I am not familiar with, I have plenty to explore... and then re-explore again! I won’t have to waste time in travelling and it will be easy to re-visit a particular spot for the perfect conditions. Success is in the bag!
2: HOW ARE YOU GOING TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS?
Depending on the type of photography or project you wish to get into, you may want to brainstorm more in-depth ideas...
...The equipment you will use, possible locations. Are you going to work with someone else and how often you will work on this project?
If you’re anything like me, when I and trying to end a break the most difficult part for me is simply picking up the camera again. So how am I going to make sure my camera is in my hand as much as possible?
My plan is to get out as much as possible, multiple times a week, to allow myself the opportunity to get some local landscape images. With outdoor photography you can guarantee that the day you decide not to go outside is when the best conditions decide to present themselves, and you.... miss it. Nothing like peering out of the window to see a sunset kicking off while you’re still in your pj's.
I Shots from 'Getting back to Photography' Youtube Video by Courtney Victoria I
3: REVIEW YOUR PLAN AGAIN.
Is it realistic? And most importantly, is it going to be fun?
If you’re not excited and motivated by the idea, then you’re more unlikely to carry it out and you may then just end up back where you started.
Every now and again, I do have to remind myself why I do landscape and outdoor photography. Apart from the love of taking photographs, I REALLY do, honestly enjoy being outside and exploring locations. It’s like little daily adventures!
But it’s very easy to start taking images for other reasons such as, 'I need something new for Instagram otherwise the algorithm will punish me.'
It’s easy to get so hung up on how many images you are or not producing. If your heart isn’t in it, your work will show it.
4: MIX IT UP.
Try something new.
Especially if you ended up in a break because of a lack of motivation or a plateau in work performance. Think of some ways to do things a little differently to make it more interesting. Or try something new completely.
A new type of photography, exploring technical aspects with online tutorials or books, documenting your project through video, creating your own educational content to motivate others, printing your work, making a image book...
Give your project a little twist. Continually improving your talents and adding to your skill base will only propel you further forwards, and in the direction of being the best photography possible. And let’s face it, we all want to be the best.
I plan to pick back up the macro and zoom lenses on my old, crop-sensor Nikon D7000 in order to look at nature a little more closely. I’d also like to work with my ND filters more in long exposure photography. A little more textbook knowledge wouldn’t go amiss either!
5: INSPIRE AND BE INSPIRED.
You will need ways to keep that motivation and inspiration going, so that your projects and photography can reach their full potential and open doors for progression.
Inspiration can come from all sorts of places; books, documentaries, art museums, other people’s work, exploring locations, etc. Look at what others are doing as you may be able to pick up tips or learn new skills from other photographers. Social media sites like Instagram is good for this because there are millions of images available that can be liked and saved.
As you produce your own amazing projects and photographs, you can also share them with others to continue the chain of people inspiring people. It just takes your work to be seen by the right person and you may find your own work in galleries, books or featured on social media.
I’m an Instagram user and use it to support other photographers images, but also to look for new and interesting location ideas that I can research into for potential future shoots. I found this helpful while living in South Korea, as I was then able to find more 'off the beaten track' locations that I may not have known about otherwise.
What are you going to do after?
You may not want to plan this just yet, but once you’re back into the swing of creating images, what are you going to do with them? Are they for yourself or do you plan to share them?
The photography process doesn’t stop after a little post processing. In the darkroom the final image was a product, a print. So, print your images! Gather your best images together to form a calendar or produce a book of your finished project. Of course you can simply share your images on social media or your website too, it’s your art after all….
I am currently in the process of printing my own images ready for sale. It’s interesting to see your own work in print, something you can physically hold. Some images oddly don’t work on paper while others look great. Deciding if I will print an image makes me think more about my technique. If I don’t want to print a specific image, then I ask myself, why? What is it about that image that makes me not want to mount and frame it on a wall? (but was okay for the instagram feed....)
Maybe my composition wasn’t the best, or my technique was a little off. But realising that means I can learn from my own images and hopefully over time improve.