Tips & Tricks: Motivating Yourself to Shoot

Our Tips & Tricks series aims to give beginners, amateurs and professionals alike more ways to approach different aspects of photography and videography. For each installment, we’ve enlisted the expertise of our MPEX staff and have received their feedback on method and equipment.

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One of the hardest things for new (and experienced) photographers is getting motivated. Sometimes you just don’t want to shoot. But keeping up with your photography is the best way to heighten your skills. So what can you do if you’re just not feeling motivated to go shoot?

We asked The Teej for some advice, and here are some tips that he has for the lethargic photographer:

Emulate shots you like. Sure, not everybody can be Gregory Heisler or Martin Schoeller, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try! If you’re getting bored with the photos you’ve been taking, try to emulate a shot from a photographer you admire. Schoeller has made some of the most iconic celebrity portraits with basically two strip lights. So get some strip lights, a shallow depth of field, and a plain background, and Schoeller it up! Many protogs will even post their lighting diagrams for your copycatting convenience. Or check out Guess the Lighting for some really cool shots accompanied by rough ideas of how the lighting might have been done in said shots. Trying to emulate someone else’s shots, especially if they are photographers who are a little out of your aesthetic comfort zone, will push you to be a better photographer and try new things, opening up your creativity.

Demotivation09Go outside your comfort zone. Not only can you try to emulate photographers whose aesthetics are different from yours, but you can also try your hand at different genres, especially if you’re feeling stagnated by your primary mode. So, if you’re primarily a portrait photographer, go for a hike and take some landscapes. Or, if you’re generally a still life/landscape photographer, try taking pictures of people. Chances are that trying new types of photography will teach you something you didn’t already know about taking photos. You’ll also probably find that there is overlap between how you shoot, say, landscapes and how you shoot portraits. See how your methods in one style transfer to another style. This will give you new ideas and new skills that will give you more options for when you want to go out and shoot.

Have your camera in hand all the time. We know this is a cliche that pops up in most “how to motivate yourself to go shoot” posts, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true! Having your camera with you will automatically make you see the world with a photographer’s eye. You’ll want to shoot because you already went through the trouble of putting on that BlackRapid strap and you’ll feel silly carrying a camera around without using it. Force yourself to bring your camera with you if you’re going out, and make sure you use it!


Use Instagram. Sure, this probably isn’t the kind of advice you’d expect to hear from a camera store, seeing as how we’re trying to sell you cameras and equipment and such, but seriously: Instagram can help you break out of your creative rut. Just like with having your camera all the time, taking photos with Instagram, especially if you’re super used to shooting with your big ol’ powerful DSLR instead, can make you think about photography differently, and may even give you some ideas for your real photography.

Rent some new gear. Nothing will make you more excited to shoot than a new piece of gear, whether it’s a new camera body with a fancy new sensor and all its fancy gadgets, or a wide-angle lens when you’re used to shooting with a telephoto (and vice versa), or even a new flash or tripod. Of course, you’re not going to want to drop $1,000+ every time you get bored with your old stuff, so renting is a cheap solution. Lucky for you, we have a really deep roster of rental gear for you to peruse. Tired of telephoto? Try a wide-angle or a fast prime lens and give yourself a shallower depth of field. Feeling limited by available lighting? Rent a flash and make your photos pop.


What other methods do you have for breaking out of a photo funk?

Midwest Photo

4 thoughts on “Tips & Tricks: Motivating Yourself to Shoot

  1. Grab a cheap film camera, like a Holga and make a point of exploiting its uncanny ability to create delightfully “bad” photos. The grainer and more vignetted, the more eloquent they become. As you return from your flight from technical prowess, you may bring back creative inspiration.

    1. Great idea. A lot of the times, I feel like I get tired with my DSLR on a technical level – same settings, same general approach. Limiting yourself to a lomograpy camera takes away a lot of those technical questions and might make you focus more on composition and other important things you might have lost sight of.

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