6 Ways to Stay Motivated with a Photography Project

6 ways to stay motivated with a photography project via Click it Up a Notch

I started my first Project 365 on January 1, 2010. I haven’t put my camera down yet, so I’m currently shooting my fifth year.

At first the project was geared towards keeping my husband connected while he was deployed. We also lived 7 hours from family and had two small children. I wanted to document our daily life so they wouldn’t miss out. I was new to shooting in manual and the first project was also dedicated to improving my skills.  For whatever reason, even after my husband came home, as our family grew to four kids, and after moving again (much closer to family), I haven’t been able to put my camera down in five years.

Of course, I absolutely run into days (weeks!) where I do not want to pick up my camera. Since 2010, I’ve dealt with 2 fairly difficult pregnancies where I was sick until I the day I delivered my boys, I’ve had 2 newborns with all the craziness they add to life, a stressful move, and many months away from my husband while he was at various training or deployments. So how have I kept shooting? (Aside from being stubborn? I kind of panic at the thought of missing a day lately! I really would like to finish five years without missing a day and then maybe, just maybe I can switch gears into a smaller project!) Here’s a few tips that have kept me shooting!

1. Shoot early.
I often try to get my shot of the day before lunch time. Our  house gets the best light in the morning hours, my kids are a little less grumpy before lunch rolls around and if I shoot early, I don’t have to frantically search for something to shoot once it’s dark outside and everyone is in a bedtime meltdown! And a bonus- sometimes I shoot something that isn’t that interesting in the morning (a safe shot) and then something else comes along during our day and I shoot that instead. It never hurts to have a few options for a shot of the day.

 

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2. Keep an inspiration journal
I keep a small journal in my camera bag with ideas for shooting. I make notes of little things my kids are doing, interesting locations I’d like to try out, themes I would like to explore. Whenever I run low on ideas, or if my kids aren’t really that into my ideas, I pull out the journal and usually find several options for the days shoot. I also keep a pinterest board with 365 ideas. For example, I jotted down that my youngest was in a stage of being pretty terrified of his shadow. I knew I wanted to capture it before he outgrew the stage, so I was on the lookout for this shot for several days before I captured it.

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3. Carry your camera everywhere. 
I like to keep my big camera with me wherever I go, safely of course! My camera bag holds my Mark3 (usually with my 35mm), a spare battery and wallet/keys/a diaper or two quite easily with room to spare and I’m not worried about expensive equipment getting broken.  On the rare occasion that I don’t want to bother with the big camera, I am a huge fan of my iPhone 5s and Instagram.  Also during the summer months, I have a waterproof camera for our pool days. I have no excuse for not capturing our day with these options! Also I’m pretty flexible with the “rules” of my project- I don’t mind occasional iPhone days and I’m a huge fan of underwater shots when we’ve spent weeks at the pool!

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4. Be flexible.
My first year I tried to follow themes for each month; I tried out different perspectives (only shooting from a low, on the ground perspective for example). I shot with specific lenses or specific apertures for a month. At the time, I was experimenting with different settings and techniques to improve my photography. But as I mastered my camera, I often found the strict themes to be a bit too confining, so about mid-way through the year I decided to ditch the themes and just shoot my life.

Do what works for you!

Just allow yourself some flexibility. For example,  originally I only wanted DSLR pictures but when I was pregnant and sick, sometimes I only managed to catch an iPhone snap during the day. I let go of my need for perfection and decided to look at the big picture- everyday didn’t need to be a big camera shot or portfolio-worthy, I just wanted the day captured! Plus iPhoneography is fun and kind of addicting!

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5. Shoot the details.
Kids don’t always enjoy having their picture taken. On days when none of my kiddos want to be in front of the camera, I often just shoot the details. I either pull out my macro lens and head outside or I shoot faceless portraits. I love mixing the detail shots into the year end collages so remember to shoot the weather and your surroundings as the seasons change.  Here’s a look at 2013 in collage form- see how I mixed detail shots with my every day portraits?

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6. Try something new.
When your motivation slows down, sometimes trying something new is just what you need to get back on track.  Borrow or rent a new lens! Process only in black and white! Something I’ve tried recently has been freelensing (You take the lens off your camera, set focus to infinity and experiment! The intense area of focus vs blur can be hard to work with at first but it’s addicting!)

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Take action: Leave a link to your Project 365 or other photography project in the comments below.

5 Ways to Build Confidence as a Photographer

5 ways to build confidence as a photographer

Let’s talk about confidence and some ways we can help boost it as photographers.

1.There is no one, and I mean absolutely NO ONE, that can create photographs the way you do.
Even if you try to copy every element employed by another photographer, a little piece of you is always there. Instead of trying to mold yourself into someone else, embrace what YOU bring to the table with your unique talents, perspectives and life experiences. There is no one in the world that has EVER lived life the way you have. Think about that for a few minutes. In all the history of ALL OF THE WORLD, there has never been anyone exactly like you. That is amazing.  Bring that to bear on your photographs. Show the world how and what you see.

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2.Just do it.
I can’t stress this one enough. There is no difference between beginner and master. The only thing that spans the space between them is practice. There is no magical formula that is going to transform you in the photographer you aspire to be other than practice.

What do I mean by practice?

Constant dedication to that which you desire to attain. It can mean reading tutorials, shooting, editing, taking a workshop…it simply means working at getting better. I could not be a bigger proponent of taking a photo a day for an entire year (Project 365) I decided the moment I bought my first DSLR that I would commit to doing that. Some days I took ridiculously stupid pictures just to say I took one. But at the end of the year, I can’t tell you how great it felt to know that I had set a goal and accomplished it. I think it’s hard to find a confidence booster bigger than that. Hard work paying off often has that affect.

3.Create luck for someone else.
We all want our photos to be “chosen” as a weekly favorite or showcased on a popular blog. It feels good to be recognized for our work. But I’ll let you in on a big secret. It feels even better to do that for someone else.

Start “liking” other photographers pages.

Give them a compliment on their photos.

Showcase THEIR work on your page.

Make them feel special.

Do you know a fellow photographer who is struggling to grasp a concept that you are an expert at? Help them! And watch how that makes YOU feel to see them appreciate you taking the time to invest in them.

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.

Watch this: Brigette Rebol has NO idea I’m about to showcase this fabulous photo I spotted on her page a few weeks ago. Hi Brigette! This is my all-time favorite photo of yours! (Don’t worry, I did get her permission to use it-she just doesn’t know why! Oh this so much fun!)

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4.Take a class or workshop and BE active with the other participants.
For a long time, I kept my photography to myself and very close friends and family.  Sharing your work through workshops and classes is a great way to connect with fellow photographers who are interested in furthering the same skillset you are. I have taken several workshops at Clickin Moms and have formed dozens of friendships online a result of sharing the learning experience together. We continue to be a part of each other’s journey long after the class has ended.  I can count on them to provide encouragement when I need it or constructive criticism when I ask for help.

Being surrounded by a supportive group of photographers does wonders for your confidence.

5. “Sweat more in peace time. You’ll bleed less in war.” 
This is one of my all- time favorite quotes (it is cited to several different people—so I’ll go with it’s an ancient Chinese proverb) Here is an example of how I apply this philosophy to my photography.

One day, I think I might like to try my hand at wedding photography. But at this season in my life, I am dedicated to being totally present in the lives of my young children and don’t have the time to dedicate to second shooting or anything else necessary to get formal experience. But that’s ok. I have 3 very active children. They love to run. They will run in straight lines towards me ALL DAY if I ask them to. I try to do this in as many lighting situations as possible (inside, outside, shady, overcast and all that I can think of in between) Because when the moment comes for me to shoot that bride walking down the aisle—you can bet it’s going to feel like she is moving in slow motion compared to capturing a fast moving kid coming at me. I will have rehearsed this moment SO many times, it will be a piece of cake.

Push yourself when it doesn’t matter and when opportunity knocks, you’ll not only be able to answer the door…you’ll have a dinner party prepared for it!

Building confidence as a photographer
Leave a comment below sharing one way you build your confidence as a photographer.

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