We have all been there at some point in our creative lives. Where you suddenly wake up one morning and realise it has been weeks since you have been out with your camera. It's undeniable for those that like to get out and shoot as a hobby. Or, in the case of the never-to-be-repeated year that was 2020, it feels like months and months. Actually, it has been the better part of a year for some people I know. What on earth went wrong, and why am I not motivated to take better photos? Sound familiar? So the big question we want to explore here today is how do I motivate myself to take better photos in 2021.
The Professional Photographers
This conundrum can be incredibly frustrating if you shoot for a living and face cancelled events and irregular business. My heart goes out to you, and I get it - I am a working photographer first and foremost too. If client work is thinning out or only just making a comeback, use the spare time to flex your creative skills and stay active with your camera.
Things will turn around, and when they do, you want to be at your peak and ready to build your client base and time with photography work. While it is easy for some to recommend broadening the genres you work in, the reality is it's not that easy. Building skill in a new genre takes time, and while it may pay well, Extreme Sports Photography is not for everyone. But there is no harm in exploring other genres and building your photography skills along the way.
Review Your Photography Kit
When facing creative funks, I always look for small ways to build my confidence and get back in the game. First and foremost, I evaluate my kit and take stock of the camera bodies and lenses I have - all of them. I don't just focus on my favourites or most used lenses - instead, I pull out the least used or specialty lenses. I consider things such as "I can't remember the last time I used that ultra-wide", or "I have only used that 200-400 a handful of times".
Those evaluations are your first step to getting out of your rut and starting a new year fresh. Also, I clean my gear, charge my batteries, and search for any forgotten images left on my memory cards. That in itself can be motivation to review your pictures and do some editing.
Do The Kind Of Work You Have Not Done In Years
There is a method to my madness here - other than cleaning your gear in the hope of motivation. The next step is to drop that ultra-wide or rarely-used telephoto lens onto your camera and make a definite plan. Visit the local beach, lake, park or wildlife sanctuary with just those least used lenses.
Take the telephoto lens to the zoo and build your skills in shooting animals. Set up on the local pier with the wide-angle lens to experiment with golden hour shots. Do the kind of creative work you have not done in years. You will suddenly see things very differently and even be a little challenged to make those lenses work for you.
Go On Photography Adventures
Another way to boost your motivation to take better photos in 2021 is to take a drive. Fuel up your car and convince a photography buddy to take a cruise with you. Either make a plan or hit the open road with no destination in mind. While observing the road, be on the lookout for exciting and unique subjects to photograph.
Visit a country town or go on the hunt for those elusive silos covered in gorgeous art. The point is, by leaving your usual stomping ground, the world opens up, and new opportunities present themselves.
Carry The Smallest Kit You Can
If you are the sort of photographer that likes to carry a bag full of lenses on every shoot, consider this. Why not just take a single camera body and a single lens. Even better, take only your smallest and lightest camera/lens combo. Don't even take a camera bag with you. Put a spare battery in your pocket and hang your camera on a quality camera strap.
Lucky Straps have an excellent range of quality leather shoulder and wrist straps for heavy and light kits. If you head out with a light kit, consider the Lucky Strap Simple 20 available in Cognac, Tan or Black. The strap features a quick-release system, and they will last a lifetime. Plus, you can customise it with embossing of your choice. The point is, getting out and about with a small and light kit always on you may spark a little creativity.
Photograph Your Own Neighbourhood
Aside from taking a long drive into the wilderness, you could also consider merely walking your neighbourhood with a camera in hand. Check out your local parks, nature spots or even the weekend market.
Do a little research to see what events are taking place in your area over the coming weeks and make a dedicated plan to participate in them. Night markets, festivals and even outdoor art installations make for an excellent opportunity to get your camera out and shoot such random events.
Photography in Your Own Backyard
Motivating yourself to make a new and fresh start and take better photos in 2021 is all good and well in theory. But much of what we faced in 2020 has already spilled into the new year. Lockdown, social distancing and government-mandated restrictions still exist and change every few days. It can be quite limiting and debilitating. A tip that I found worked for me during lockdown was photographing within my boundaries.
Photographing family members, pets, and even dabbling in product photography all from the safety of my home or workspace. I know that many of my photography mates shopped online for macro lenses so they could explore the minute world of their backyards.
I guess this article's overall theme is to move from a place of restrictions and limitations to a place where you can open up your creative options. Trying new genres, new gear or even dusting off your old gear can make all the difference. Trust me; I know how hard it can be to climb out of a creative rut. Motivating yourself to take better photos in 2021 will take a little thought and a lot of experimentation. But the rewards and overall shift in your mood will be well worth it in the long run.