5 Quick Tips To Keep You Motivated

5 Quick Tips To Keep You Motivated


We all have those days. Days where you know you want to do something with your camera or photographs, but the motivation tank is on Empty. I’ve been having some of those days recently and came up with a list to help pop me out of the rut and back to being productive. This list is by no means exhaustive and I’d appreciate any additions that work for you, in the comments section.

TIP #1 – Go for a walk
Copyright marta the good oneI know, I know. It’s one of the hardest things to do when you’re not feeling motivated. Even worse if it’s raining outside. But getting your bum off the chair or sofa and out the door is a great first step. It is a lot easier to just keep staring at the computer screen and letting your analytical mind wander, sometimes feeling like you’re accomplishing something, but getting your blood pumping and elevating your heart rate will help activate your creative mind. It doesn’t need to be a long or fast walk. Just 15 minutes will be enough to get the juices flowing.

It also helps because it removes you from an environment that is obviously not helping you become creative at the moment. I like this method because it requires no special equipment, clothes or location. Everyone has ‘outside’ out their front door. Just lace up some shoes or boots and get your heart going!

TIP #2 – 5 in a HalfLaced

5 in a Half is a challenge I give myself every time I’ve been away from the camera too long. It seems like a simple task; Take just 5 pictures within a half mile (or kilometer, no need to do the conversion math) of your home. I say it seems simple, but in this digital age, it’s sometimes *harder* to take just 5 pictures. Make each picture unique in some way, be it subject matter, camera angle, exposure settings. This task is great when following the first tip on taking a walk, as chances are you spotted something on your way back to the house that might make a good photo. The boot at left was a castaway along side the road that I’ve been meaning to shoot for a while. Nothing spectacular but it got the camera into my hand and turned on my creative mind to look for more content.

TIP # 3 – Check Past DPS Articles

Digital Photography School has already pointed out a number of ways to get motivated or feel inspired. Here’s a recap of the most useful:

TIP #4 – Be Random on Flickr

Flickr is a great place to find some inspiration with millions of photos available and thousands more being uploaded each minute. There is a place on the site which presents the most interesting things posted in the last seven days. Here you can find top notch photography as well as different perspectives on traditional subjects. Nine images are presented at a time and a reload button is presented to bring you nine more images. To be honest, it’s an amazingly good way to kill half a day as wonderful images just keep coming. There is also a monthly view located here which presents the most interesting photos from any given day.

Flickr is also the place to gain inspiration on a particular topic. Are you interested in barns, airplanes, Costa Rica, salsa dancing? The search box on every page of Flickr allows for instant transportation around the world.

TIP #5 – Fill in the Blank

Now it’s your turn! What do you do when you need some inspiration or motivation?

Peter is an avid photographer who enjoys travel, portraiture and wildlife photography. A travel related blog of his past and current shenanigans can be found at The Carey Adventures.

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Peter West Carey leads photo tours and workshops in Nepal, Bhutan, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and beyond. He is also the creator of Photography Basics - A 43 Day Adventure & 40 Photography Experiments, web-based tutorials taking curious photographers on a fun ride through the basics of learning photography.

Some Older Comments

  • MARIO NARANJO MOLINA July 17, 2010 02:43 am

    I do most of these things you´re advising here. But there´s something that never fails to bring you up: listen to Rachmaninof´s first concert for piano and orchestra... try it out.

  • Erin Kohlenberg July 3, 2010 04:35 am

    I read photog blogs (like Peter Carey's) and think about his gelato meetup.
    Also find a photo buddy for mutual encouragement.

  • Nancy M February 8, 2009 03:06 am

    Take up a hobby like geocaching and take your camera along.

  • Olivier H June 5, 2008 07:46 pm

    I find interesting to have my camera during parties with my friends, and try to capture the moments in a way that I or my friends and family are not used to.
    It's also good practice for your skills, and you have plenty of occasions of retrying a certain shot if you don't manage it on the firt time.

  • theargentfox May 30, 2008 06:41 pm

    My wife and I are both newbies at digital photography. We like getting in the car and going for a drive and just stopping wherever along the way. We take our photos and then compare. It is really amazing that the same scene can look so different. I like getting down and capturing nature's lines, my wife catches small scenes in the big picture. It helps us to realise that there are so many different perspectives - this motivates us both to do better next time.

  • Lele May 30, 2008 08:22 am

    Well this really works: Whenever i feel that i start to be a stranger to my cam, I force myself and do the hardest: i take photojournalistic photos for an hour or two. Especially i try to be in the middle of the people and make a direct shooting to their eyes. It's maybe the hardest thing to be in contact with people when you are not motivated. But one my photography teachers had told me that self confidence is very important and when you grab the camera you gotta believe that you are a real photographer.

    With my experience i can say it's true. Whenever i feel like a loser or i am a bit shy behind the camera, everything goes worse and worse. When i feel self confidence all the children playing with colourful baloons in front of an old building come into my photo themselves:)

  • Igor May 29, 2008 08:40 pm

    By the way: favourite enjoyable music sometimes inspirate for nice photos!

  • Igor May 29, 2008 05:27 pm

    If I have boring times with no ideas what to photograph I make 'virtual' projects in my mind.
    Sometimes I have several projects simultaneously and keep them in mind.
    For example, my recent touch was 'Work instruments' at my country house. And the feature is that all photos are to be in B&W. I simply posted an idea to myself: 'instruments in B&W. Not boring :)'.
    It works!

  • daimon May 29, 2008 08:51 am

    it's already been pointed out, but keep your camera ready wherever you go. ideas present as you pass by. at least in my case, I found myself missing some shots because I didn't have my camera.

    the second thing has also been pointed out : keep your eyes on other's achievements. it's the best inspirational source you can think of. even if you don't feel "like it", your tiptoes may start itching for the camera.

    last but not least .. and I hope this is at least new : put yourself constantly in new positions. change your route. take a walk on a remote part of the city. call a friend and drop by his house. climb to the top of a church. or crouch in the middle of the town. there's plenty of opportunity out there.

    motivated? there's no need to "get motivated". it's like in driving .. in the beginning, you're excited about it, then you reach the 20k miles/km landmark, and you get tired of it, the excitement having worn off .. and then, you start enjoying its beauty from the scratch, since you can't help but drive anyway.

    you bought a camera. you like photography. we all have our ups and downs. as long as, one day, you pop your head and say "time for a shoot!" , everything is okay.

    the rest of advice given by us, can help but a little bit.

  • James May 29, 2008 06:29 am

    I like to grab a notebook and write down random titles and then try to take pictures that fit one of the titles. Sometimes I open up a book and grab random words and try to capture the words in a picture.

  • Sarosa May 29, 2008 06:05 am

    My absolute greatest inspiration always is Digital Photography School. Even though I am a little passive so far, but this is only because of my work load. Thank you all!

  • MIGZ May 29, 2008 05:45 am

    Revisiting previous shots with a critical eye. You'll be surprised how much your photo skills have evolved. Revisiting my favorite subjects (my wife and daughter) inspire me to continue shooting.

  • Kimmit May 29, 2008 04:58 am

    Many points already mentioned, such as always carrying a camera, using different angles and lenses and shooting every day...
    I find a lot of inspiration looking on the most popular images on microstock sites. Since I shoot for ms it's a natural.
    I also scan through my collection, especially older shots, and see where I could do it better now that I've learned a bit.
    I like to go to the same location in different seasons, weather, etc. and document the changes and moods.
    I like to look at things very close up. Macro really opens your eyes to how beautiful your immediate environment is.
    I also love to combine photos in Photoshop in creative ways. Some of my best sellers were made this way.

  • AC May 29, 2008 12:33 am

    Looking around the house can also produce some interesting snaps. There are a lot of things that can change in macro mode :)

  • Jan May 28, 2008 08:27 pm

    Choose a color and shoot everything of that color that you can find.(Lime green and pink are challenging). Experiment with off camera lighting. Everyone has dry spells. Use that time to write down your own suggestions and you may find it motivates you to get out and shoot. Worked for me!

  • KRIS May 28, 2008 07:20 pm

    I read books of the Maesteros like Scott Kelby, Bryan Perterson etc., even if I have read them a hundred times before and try to take some pics resembling some simplest pics in the book. This wroks especially indoors on Macro, Still Life or Portrait of a family member. I have seen motivates me enough to get out take pics regularly.

  • Oranse Taylor May 28, 2008 02:22 pm

    #1 is all anybody needs, just go somewhere cool, and work up a sweat. Senses will wake up, and so will the creativity.

  • Bob May 28, 2008 01:22 pm

    Watch the news for events happening in your area, and visit that.

  • Chuck W May 28, 2008 12:55 pm

    I keep a small point and shoot Olympus in my backpack almost everywhere I go, typically nabbing about a dozen random shots of stuff that looked neat each week. When I get into a slump, I dig through those shots to find subjects I want to get "real shots" of by pulling out the Canon and going back to the scene.

  • Damian P. Gadal May 28, 2008 08:53 am

    Use a different lens. Change it up. Do Macro, Long Lens, Portrait, etc. Something that is just a little bit of a break from the norm.

  • sven May 28, 2008 07:47 am

    flickrleech.net for quickly browsing through the 500 most interesting flickr pics of the day

  • Mandy May 28, 2008 07:12 am

    I'm doing a project 365 so that is pretty motivating in itself, and always carrying my camera with me!

  • Bryan May 28, 2008 05:20 am

    Good tips from everyone.

    Think about ways to use your photography skills to bring attention to those in need, or change the way people think about important issues.

  • Michelle Goodall May 28, 2008 04:45 am

    I really like the #2 and in fact will have to go try it out. What I do for inspiration is look on several diofferent web sites and get ideas from those.

  • sherry May 28, 2008 04:21 am

    I was going to suggest the same thing as the first comment, to try to take a picture of something you've photographed before but to make it look different - take it from above, below, different lighting, etc.

    On the post-processing side, try to do something (use a photoshop action or a tutorial) that makes your photo look wildly different from the original.

  • Raymond Chan May 28, 2008 04:05 am

    Can't agree more to D.T. North's comment. Although I started blogging before I took up photography, blogging has definitely been a major influence ever since I took up photography, especially in the post-production bit.

  • --Deb May 28, 2008 04:04 am

    I'm just chuckling--#1 is a GREAT tip except that, in my house, it's a sin to go for a walk without the dog, and having him sniffing along at the end of his leash while I'm trying to take a picture gets tricky (grin). (Possible, mind you, but tricky!)

  • D. T. North May 28, 2008 03:17 am

    Been suggested here a couple of times in the past, but start a Photo Blog. Keep it in the back of your mind to keep new photos on there, and it will constantly keep you motivated - not only on the capture side, but on the post-production side.

  • Peter May 28, 2008 03:01 am

    I keep a point and shoot compact camera with me at all times, and push myself to take at least one photograph a day. The challenge with this is that Monday through Friday I usually take the same route to work, and explore the same surroundings during my lunchtime walkabout. Finding something new every day is both frustrating and rewarding.

  • Sean Birch May 28, 2008 02:41 am

    Take a set of photos where every one is looking up at things from below, or looking down on things from above.

  • Shirley Savage May 28, 2008 02:35 am

    I have been taking photography classes at the local junior college - it is very inspring! The projects are interesting and sharing your work helps you to get motivated and I have learned so much. I am retired so I have found it is never to late to learn.

  • Raymond Chan May 28, 2008 01:34 am

    Keep your camera with you wherever you go.

    Raymond Chan
    - http://chanraymond.net

  • Jennifer Zandstra May 28, 2008 01:29 am

    Perfect timing! I was feeling in a bit of a rut this morning... I think I'll try the "5 in a half" later today...

  • Tombo May 28, 2008 01:05 am

    Whenever I get into a rut I just take 5-10 pictures of the same object, and try to get a different feel to each photo.