Been in photography long enough as a professional or a hobbyist and we will surely hit a brick wall sooner or later coming to our craft.
Photography Rut –when one feels bored with your gear, a poignant loss of creatively or even more basic , feeling the same-old when one picks up the camera? When getting out to photograph does not feel as exciting anymore.
Now, firstly this is never a bad thing as it shows that as a person, we care enough about our craft to be bothered. For example, I have seen ‘photographers’ boasting of doing 10,000 shots (which then some say makes them professional) but show little improvement for it.
Here, I am not going to tell you ‘what to do’, that is insulting and not useful. I will instead help with sharing ‘how to think’ instead, which I hope leads to a mindset refresh.
*Note: Photos shared here are from a mini-photo series titled Snapshots of Singapore II. You can find it on my IG @keith.wee.
How I got hit with the ‘rut’
I am not keen on spending your reading time on motherhood statements but maybe one does get wiser with age and I kinda reflected on the 3 things that has kept me going for the last 7 years:
- New gear acquisition has been a big source of fuel in keeping me going (which is not that healthy unless you have a substantial fortune).
- Incoming projects, whether personal or official reviews coupled with a sense of good responsibility / ownership.
- Documenting the growth of my kids, which basically was the sole driver leading me to a camera.
However, despite going on during the height of Covid-19 and still producing a list of reviews and a photo-documentary, 2022 felt like a loss of momentum, partly due to increased responsibilities at work, a move into other hobbies, plus a loss of a great contact at Fujifilm Asia Pacific who would always kindly pass me the newest for reviews. I have also stopped giving interviews on CNA 93.8FM due to time constraints.
This was despite me building new relationships with Canon, Polaroid and Sigma for starters and collaborations with Fujifanboys in a few Youtube productions and one webinar.
Maybe it is a hunger that gnaws at me more for “I should be shooting more”, and “I should be stepping out to try new genres, new experiences, new learnings” but yeap, the last 2 months felt pretty frustrating. It feels I am hungry for more personal growth but yet feel so much resistance from the chaos of life I am in.
The 5 Principles that worked for me – which I hope can help you started again.
There is little use in telling people ‘what to do’, and it is more important to guide people on ‘how to think’, hence you will not be reading motherhood statements like “go out and shoot more”, “travel to a new place” from me.
Shooting more of the same-old does not help as a mindset refresh needs to go deeper.and here we go!
1st Principle: thinking about Clarity.
A clear mind must be the start. Start by being kinder to yourself. Take the negative thinking about why the photos seem to ‘suck’ or why the camera now seems ‘boring’ and place them aside first.
Focus on the act of creating, think of to what you love and is satisfied to photograph.
A rut generally brings about a sense of frustration, and these emotions can stick and eat into us, causing a downward spiral. Make the time by removing distractions for a clear mind helps immensely to start (Is it connections? relationships? purpose? and on)
2nd Principle: thinking about your Direction
I revisited my motivation, agenda towards photography. The question of: “Where is this going to lead me to?”
Not the ones that is pushed through pressure or urgency, but what really gets me to settle down, pick up the camera to create. Maybe it is time to ponder a bit deeper on what is yours?
3rd Principle: getting some Resilience
This can get tricky. Resilience here means having the sense of inner security, so when your works, actions are being questioned or (very likely) negated, one is able to deal with the uncertainty and lack of confidence and push through with the mental fitness and staying power. Having a bunch of friends who can engage you in photography helps with the encouragement.
4th Principle: honing some Creativity
Not really referring to the photo-creation aspect. One should now know that trying, experimenting new genres and being exposed to different works helps and that is common sense. Here I am referring to the insight one can have for innovating and solving one’s issues, leading to creating opportunities and hopefully, delight.
5th Principle: being Authentic (to oneself)
Photography is a form of expression, and a cross between the Arts and Sciences (well, Mathematics too). And this speaks to you about being comfortable with what you want to present, what your photos speak about, in fact, what you believe to be right.
While important to listen to feedback, one has to learn to differentiate between useful constructive feedback versus the useless noise that is abundant on social media nowadays.
Photographing what others like is expected if it is a paid job of course, but for the shots that one personally connects with, creating what gets the likes on social media frankly seldom pan out in the long run due to how fickle the platforms can be.
In fact, if you shoot for likes, you are bound to get ‘unliked’ at some point.wise words from an accomplished street photographer friend.
Start today and stop procrastinating. Remember, ‘We only die once‘ (I don’t believe in ‘You only Live once‘, because we are supposed to be living everyday)
Thank you for reading and may our photography journeys be meaningful.