Friday, August 14, 2015

Loss Of Passion?

In Love At The Carnival
Captured as a straight image, I developed the RAW file in my Olympus software and applied the Pinhole art filter to a cropped version of my initial capture. The filter added a nice vignette and popped the colors a bit

Most photographers first pick up a camera because of a love of subject matter. But what happens when your passion for your subject wanes?

I have been a photographer for more than twentynine years and this year has been one of the strangest years for me photographically speaking. For the past nine years I have been a nature and flower photography nut, exploring every flower, insect, tree, bird, and just about every nature subject that I came upon. Year after year I expected my obsession to wane, but year after I eagerly kept at it. When my flower obsession started six years ago, every year I wondered when I would "hit the wall" of boredom and cease to have the motivation to photograph them. But again year after year the obsession continued.

Until this year. Maybe it’s because of changes going on in my life like my recent 66lb weight loss. Or maybe it’s just a plain ol’ simple case of burn out caused by the same old subject year after year. As this is something I am going through, I can offer no 20/20 hindsight on this situation. But this is not the first time that I have experienced a photographic burn out.

Over the years I have experienced a few periods of various forms of photographic burn out. And for various reasons including boredom of the same subject matter, physical difficulty (after getting sick & weight gain) or just simple lack of creative motivation.

So how does one get motivated again? That’s a tricky question and there are many different answers as there are photographers. But here are some things that have worked for me in the past and what I am doing currently to reignite my creative passion:

Get Inspired

Often when I am feeling creatively challenged, I’ll browse the works of my favorite photographers. Viewing awe inspiring images from other photographers can often motivate me to get out there. And if those images are accompanied by instructional text, it may also motivate me to try new techniques which is often a cure for any kind of creative burnout. So…

Try New Techniques

Many photographers have a mental list of the techniques that they may want to try out. One of the greatest things about photography is that there are a countless number of techniques to experiment with. If you are feeling creatively burnt out, maybe trying out some new techniques on old subjects can ignite that creative spark you’ve been looking for.
Here I captured the image using my camera’s Pinhole art filter which added a vignette and pumped up the colors. While not exactly a new technique, it’s one that I’ve only been using the past year and a half since having my Olympus OMD EM5 camera.

"Hit Your Formula"

The complete opposite of the previous tip. This is the one that I’ve been using the most this year. I have been shooting less so I want to guarantee the highest number of keepers during the short number of hours that I have to shoot. I have been relying on my favorite techniques that I have developed over the years. This is where experience comes in and you receive your payback for all of your previous learning and shooting experiences.

Here I used a telephoto lens and a wide aperture for a nice bubbly bokeh that I often favor. I also added the vignette effect during RAW processing using Olympus’ Pinhole art filter
Find New Subjects Or Photograph Old Subjects A New Way

This is a variation of tip 2 except finding new subject matter may not necessitate the use of new techniques. It can be as simple as finding new subjects local to you or hitting the road to seek out new scenery and subjects.

Or you can try photographing favorite subjects a new way. This year, instead of spending all my time photographing flowers like I usually do, I actually took the time to turn the camera on me. While I have always done "selfies" over the years since I was a teenager, many of this year’s attempts have gone beyond a simple snapshot to actual photo sessions where I am trying to learn lighting, posing, and other portraiture techniques. These sessions have been fun learning experiences, and when I’m done I have high quality portraits of myself as a consolation prize for my efforts. It has been both challenging and rewarding.

Self portraiture has been a recent favorite project for this year. And although I have been photographing myself since I was a teen, my recent photos have been more lessons in lighting and portraiture than my previous attempts. Here I experimented with hot lights and atypical posing for this image.

New Gear

I’m not much of an equipment junkie but new gear can sometimes be the solution to the boredom, especially if it’s a new lens. Adding a new focal length, such as adding a telephoto or wide angle lens to your kit, can offer you a new perspective which could spark creativity. This year’s budget does not allow for a new lens, but I already had a lens that had been seeing less use since I’ve been using my Olympus OMD EM5, my Lensbaby. So I pulled out my Lensbaby this summer and have been playing around with that on some of my recent flower photo sessions and my passion for that lens has been reignited by these sessions.

I captured these potted Petunia flowers with my Lensbaby.

After thousands/millions of photos it is no surprise when one temporarily loses passion for a craft that one loves so much. And when it happens, it’s up to us to reignite the passion, take a break, or perhaps even just give it up forever. Few choose that last option, creative passion rarely leaves us forever. If you are experiencing a temporary loss of passion, I hope my tips help. And if you have any tips of your own that you would like to share, please do!

From my NYC trip in April, my creativity always gets a spark from a change of location.

After the writing of this post, I have since been to NYC which further helped to reawaken my creativity. And while I shot many of the same subjects, I found myself shooting them in fresh ways. This was in part to a different mindset and a suddenly renewed creative spark. Add to that the shooting a new subject on a late afternoon with dramatic clouds, and my brief trip was productive creatively. I will write about it in a couple of upcoming blog posts.

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