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A Guest Post by Claire Woollam the Digital Iris.
Every few months I feel a lack of motivation creeping in and I realise that my daily photographs in particular (I’m doing a 365 project this year) are starting to become a bit dull and lacking in inspiration. Happily I’ve managed so far to climb back out of that hole and get creative again – here are my top tips.
A few minutes spent on Google Images, Flickr and sites such as DPS never fails to help me get my photo-mojo back. I find pictures rather than words stimulate the creative juices best. If you blog, you may be able to find a tool which lets you view the pages of other bloggers’ who have similar interests to yours (I use Blogger where you can link to other people’s sites through your Profile page).
I’m lucky – living in London means there is always a fantastic range of galleries showing pictures from all manner of photographers, many of which are free. An hour or so spent looking at someone else’s shots in ‘real life’ rather than on a computer screen always manages to inspire me. I particularly enjoy seeing less well-known works, which tend to be displayed in more intimate and interesting spaces, often a source of inspiration in themselves. But no matter where you live, you can usually find something going on near you, be it at a local library, community centre or even a shop window on the local high street.
Get online and check out your area’s listings to make sure you don’t miss any up and coming exhibits. I like to do a bit of quick research before I head along to a gallery – having some background knowledge on the photographer and their style means you can better appreciate the pictures in front of you and you don’t waste time when you’re there reading reams of gallery pamphlets or stuff on the walls.
I particularly like that many photography exhibitions are quite small scale, meaning that you don’t end up with the ‘museum fatigue’ experienced when trudging around a large, expensive art gallery, feeling obliged to see everything at all costs because you’ve paid for it and you’re damn well going to see it all! (or is that just me?!)
We visit our local library most weekends. Admittedly some of the photography books are looking rather old and might be considered to be a bit technically out of date. However, big anthologies of pictures are always a pleasure to flick through and can help bring fresh creative blood to your brain.
The bonus of libraries is that there’s no bookshelf space dilemma at home and they’re free! You can always make like me and fill in a suggestion card for new titles – a few months after asking for ‘more photography books, please!’ low and behold a nice fresh little stock appeared on the shelves: if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
Always walk the same way to work? Take the same bus or train? Comfortable in the same Saturday morning routine? Make up your mind to introduce a change next hour, next day, next week. Find a new area or some different streets to roam during your lunch break. Get up an hour earlier and walk in the opposite direction than you usually do from your house. See where your feet take you and what your lens comes across.
It’s always helpful to get feedback on your shots via sites like Flickr, but nothing beats the buzz of seeing a picture you took in the local paper or short-listed for a competition. When you know you’ve done good, you can’t fail but want to do more and better!
Local papers often look for pictures from your area and most nationals run regular competitions, both in paper and online. A quick search of the Internet may bring up some interesting and inspiring opportunities. Why not give it a whirl – you may be pleasantly surprised! So these are the kind of things I get up to when I feel the need for a digital energy injection. It would be interesting to hear what other people do to revive flagging photo motivation.
Get more from Claire Woollam at her site – the Digital Iris.