How to Reinvigorate Your Love for the Craft of Photography

As photographic professionals, we spend a lot of time just getting work done. There are emails, phone calls, retouching, shoots, gear maintenance, backups, portfolio management, and all the other things you’ve heard listed by anyone giving you the sermon on photography as a business as opposed to photography for the love of the craft. The reality is, for many of us, that some of this stuff just isn’t all that inspiring

I don’t know of too many people who get excited about the prospect of answering the 50 emails they got over night or watching the 200gb of data from this month backup onto those shiny new hard drives. Then, sometimes we take jobs just to pay the bills, just to make sure the business stays afloat. These things can start to wear on you. I know I’ve found myself wondering why I do it from time to time, wondering if a day job wouldn’t be easier. It’s times like these that I need a little jolt to remember why I got into this in the first place. Below are a few things I recommend if you start feeling that strain.

Give Yourself Time off

When you run your own business, time is money. Taking time off can mean losing income. But sometimes it needs to happen. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the list of 500 things you have to do this week, but sometimes slowing down is all it takes to rejuvenate your love for the craft. Book a personal shoot. Take time to have coffee with a friend. Walk the streets and shoot the parts of life you love. The shot below was done with no pressure and working with a good friend and chef from a local restaurant here in Seoul.

Buy Yourself a Ticket

Love traveling? Go one step better and buy yourself a ticket. It could be a train to the next city or a flight to another country. Just go somewhere and fill your senses with the unknown. Give yourself the time and space to think. Heck, don’t take a camera if that’s what it takes. Some of my favourite work recently has been the photographs from my 2 week trip back to Myanmar. I had no agenda, just a hotel room booked. I arrived, and I started walking. One afternoon, I played football with children on the Bay of Bengal, had tea and described the ebb and flow of life with a man I had no common language with, and watched the downpour of the beginning of monsoon season from a temple in the quiet company of a row of monks. So far removed from the daily life of my home, Seoul, are these things, that they gave me the space to breathe and a place from which to approach my photography the following day.

Buy a Book of Photographs

It’s very easy to read another book on techniques, lighting setups, or business management. But to restore the love of the craft, I recommend sitting down with a book of photographs. Everyone is shooting from a different place in life, and with different intentions. I was recently gifted a book of photographs by Boogie, called “Belgrade Belongs to Me.” Nothing could have prepared me for the effect this documentary would have on me. Boogie’s loose framing, respect for his subjects, and sense of inclusion in his frames gives the viewer an honest walk through the streets of a city that has been subject to all manner of changes over the past few decades. I looked at my own work after this, and realized that one element I need to work on is honesty in my approach, both towards myself and towards my subject.

Make Prints of Your Work

If you don’t own a printer of your own, send some of your work to a lab, or compile a book and have it printed somewhere by one of the many print-on-demand services out there. One of the greatest feelings in photography for me is watching a print inch out of my Epson. Holding a high quality print of your work in your hand, one that doesn’t have Facebook notifications popping up all over it, will give you a moment to appreciate your work, realize how far you have come, and where you’re going next. Sit in a quiet place and spend some time with them, don’t just flip over your prints. For me, the passion and desire to improve the work I create comes at these times. These are not simple images on a screen. Prints are tangible items you can study over time, reflect on, and if you so desire, make notes on.

For me, photography is a job, a passion, a hobby, and a lifestyle. Just like any job, photography can become too much at times. But, it can be hard to step back completely as it is also my form of self expression. These are a few of the methods I use to get myself back in the game when I feel like throwing in the towel. I’d love to hear other ways you get yourself back on track when things get tough.