Incense

by Bart Arondson

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I recently had to take almost a year long break from photography. Not sure how much I've missed, may be a few new equipment releases or some new technologies. However, I think I am willing and ready to get active in photography again but since I've been inactive for quite a while I am struggling with it. The local communities have all new faces and I don't think at this stage I can restart from zero. I bought a new lens hoping it'll kick me active, but nope!

I know this sounds too stupid, but may be someone out there has been in my shoes and can share his experience with me?

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You aren't starting from zero, don't worry. This is the beauty of photography as a hobby :) Find something you are passionate about and start taking pictures, you won't need much more of a nudge! –  dpollitt Feb 28 '13 at 13:42
    
possible duplicate of What resources would help me when I'm getting back into photography? –  Itai Feb 28 '13 at 14:17
2  
voting to keep open AND please massively edit it. In one of the answers you essentially ask a different question, it is about motivation and feeling, not technique. That's not a dupe. –  Paul Cezanne Feb 28 '13 at 14:44

7 Answers 7

up vote 8 down vote accepted

If you have trouble to get excited, I can understand that you took the option to get some new gear to get kicked into a new creative mood.

Unfortunately, this question needs a very personal answer, so allow me to try to throw a few options out here. I am a on-and-off shooter and take breaks sometimes for a month or more and then find something that kicks me back into the mood.

  1. New gear - you mentioned that already but still - if you find something that really interests you from a challenge or technical point of view this can be really nice - provided that you have a chance to use it properly. Things like lens babies, T/S lenses or pinhole, filters, fish eyes etc can really get one dreaming what one could do with it, but it demands that you can actually apply it where and when you are using it. I normally see a photo shot with an effect first and then try to replicate it - and might get the gear for it.
  2. New inspiration - I found that looking at new books and magazines that showcase others creative work always irks me to try something similar. I am mostly not good enough to replicate things, but I always can find some work that is just a margin away from mine and I want to try to move into that direction because I like what they do, and then try it
  3. Old gear - we spend sometimes a lot of money on it but maybe do not use it. Reading reviews about the gear that I have often shows me examples and fields of usage that I have not used appropriately. It somehow 'guilts' me into using that gear, but often I find that those applications are promising, since the gear is recommended for this specific thing!
  4. New places - If I look at my city's map and see places, restaurants or landscapes that I have not seen before or from where I do not have photos, it makes me think I should go there and take a look at it. The camera comes more along just in case, but I often end up to take at least some interesting shots - since I am interested in the place, not the photo.
  5. New people - similar to point 2, when I talk to others about their work, I get inspired to try something similar or get my own ideas about what was mentioned. If the people around you changed, I would rather consider this an opportunity than anything else.
  6. Downgrade - The risk of too much equipment makes me always think that I am almost too much in control. Going out with a simpler camera or only one lens can be very interesting.
  7. challenges - there are those Photo challenge websites (like http://www.dpchallenge.com/) are something that can get you into gear since they throw you a phrase like "Absurdity" and their deadlines also can give you a small kick to get going.

I guess for myself the object is more important than the picture, and once I find something interesting, the drive to take a photo of it comes along.

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I think a lot of people have given you excellent advice, and having taken breaks in the past, I can tell you this. Look at other people's work - go crazy and go wide - Ansel Adams to Ruth Bernhard to Henri Cartier Bresson. Then look at some fashion stuff. Peek into Facebook, Piccsy, 500px, Flickr and others. Flip through newspapers.

Then, maybe look at the DIY stuff - the new Pi camera, the cool time lapse stuff, or Project Mad I believe - where they reinstated the erstwhile Polaroid...

Volunteer - Humane Societies, Cancer Societies - several of these would love someone to take some photos for them!

And then, when you are back in full swing, come back and tell us what worked :).

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2  
And if you volunteer, please add your experience here: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/34332/… –  MikeW Mar 7 '13 at 7:21

I am not sure about this, but since no one appears to have mentioned it, here you go :

Take up teaching, if you are not fully qualified to teach or dont have time to invest in teaching, inspire/teach some one you know. Let them get bitten by shutter bug. In this process you will also learn more and "could" reignite your passion for photography. You will be surprised to hear many basic questions from them which you cannot answer.

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I do not think it is smart to force yourself to like/do photography. You have to get the photography virus back in your veins. You don't get that by just looking at a screen or something like that.

Go outside, take a walk or get the bike. Do not rush yourself to your destination, enjoy your view and try to frame a picture in your head before using a camera. You could also use a camera while going to work or school. Just get off the bike or photograph outside the window of the train for example.

At home you could (digitally) improve your photos and/or print them. Try to give feedback to yourself, so the next time your pictures will be better. Eventually, just try to have fun.

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I think the best thing to do here is find a project. It doesn't really matter what the project is, but it should be something where you feel like you're making something. It could be a series of photos on a certain theme, or portraits of a certain person, or prints for a local art exhibition.

The key thing is that you need a goal beyond "get back into photography", because that doesn't really have anything to hook you. Buying a new lens doesn't do it, because that's not an end. And something like committing N hours per week to photograph just makes it a chore. So, focus on some result. it could be a grand, sweeping multi-year project, but I think it's probably best to choose something relatively small and obtainable — but, something big enough that you'll be proud to show it to others.

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This is what I would recommend. Start a photo a day journal, start a blog focusing on a certain type of photography, volunteer to photograph some type of recurring event you enjoy, etc. as well as all of the options Matt noted. –  dpollitt Feb 28 '13 at 15:39

Take a vacation with your camera. If the area around you isn't inspiring, try going somewhere that has more things that might inspire you. (Particularly if you prefer environments to people.) I always find I'm more hyped up about photography after getting a great set of photos on a vacation (cruises in particular I find helpful as the locations vary, but a road trip could also replicate the feeling). Granted, I think personally it also helps that vacations are one of the few times I get to do clear water underwater photography, which I personally love.

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I make sure and do this at least once per year with photography as my main goal. I can't imagine not bringing my camera with to one of these adventures, so of course I'll be inspired to capture images. –  dpollitt Feb 28 '13 at 15:40
  1. Grab your camera
  2. Grab some film
  3. Take a picture.
  4. (optional) Repeat step #3

Also, consider not equating gear with photographing. Having a library card does not make someone a good reader.

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I know gear doesn't make one any better photographer, I went desperate and it was worth a shot :) My be my question wasn't clear enough. I went out with my camera and all equipments, took pictures but I am not getting the same feeling I used to get once. I still love taking photographs, cherish all the time I am out with my camera but still I feel like something is missing. "As a photographer if you no longer go for a opportunity to get a good photo, you're no longer a photographer". (Borrowed from Ayrton Senna) –  fahad.hasan Feb 28 '13 at 6:35
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@ShutterBug - then maybe it's time to change your name and explore other hobbies. You can't feign interest for long. There's no crime in changing tastes or taking extended leaves of absence. –  Andrew Heath Feb 28 '13 at 11:59
    
@ShutterBug, please read your comment over. If you are looking for the problem, it lies right there. –  Ricardo Saporta Feb 28 '13 at 14:07

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