As professional photographers we seem to get sucked into a never-ending vortex of shooting, editing, pouring more coffee and repeat. Although a set routine is essential to staying organised and on track it's also easy to see the routine as mundane and get into a creative rut. So how do we stay inspired by our work and where our business is headed? How do we keep the fun and passion in photography when it has quickly turned into strictly business and just moving on to the next task?
Having a photography business shouldn't leave you feeling crushed so we're here to lift the weight off and get you excited about what you do again.
1. Set Goals in a Visual Way
As photographers, I would like to say that most of us are very visual people and learners. We like to see our thoughts and ideas blossom into something tangible and creative. To set goals and add a little fun to your office create a goal board where you can physically see your progress and keep track of things.
For example, if your goal is to shoot 20 weddings in one year, create a board with twenty squares that you can fill in with stickers, post-it notes or colour in with highlighters. (Uhm hello unicorn stickers) That way you can get excited about adding to your board and keep yourself accountable in a fun way.
There are loads of ideas to get you started on Pinterest to suit anyone's style. My favourite for inspiration is this goal list from savysugar.
2. Shoot Outside Your Style
If you are in a shooting slump opt for something outside of your usual realm. If you typically shoot bright and airy portraits, try shooting something dark and moody. If you usually shoot outside, try shooting indoors or in a studio. If you usually shoot child portraits, try shooting fashion. Whatever it is think outside the box and try something new to get those creative juices flowing. Whether you change your style, location or subject it will feel like a breath of fresh air!
3. Stay Off Social Media
We're all guilty of endlessly scrolling on Instagram, belonging to countless Facebook photography groups and borrowing ideas from Pinterest. What this also means is that we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. Not only can this be damaging to your self-confidence (there will always be someone better, more successful or more popular) it also ruins your creativity and independent thinking. Although these groups and learning from industry leaders can be super helpful also make sure you're not losing yourself or ditching your own personal style. Try spending less time on social media or unfollowing Facebook groups so that they don't automatically appear in your news feed. This way you have to consciously visit the groups instead of always being fed other's work 24/7.
After all "Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it." - Bruce Lee
4. Take a Photo Walk
When was the last time you actually left your desk and took a walk? (no, your photo sessions don't count)
Make some time for yourself, or with the dog and kids and go for a relaxing evening walk. Bring your camera along and simply shoot what you see. No pressure for your next great work of art here, just get shooting for fun even if you throw 99% of what you take in the trash. This helps to reset the clock and brings off the pressure of a perfect session, letting you get back to the fun of things.
5. Shoot a Styled Model Call
Although we're always taking the lead in shoots and offering our professional opinions, rarely are we shooting something that is entirely our ideas and exactly how we wished it would be. Organise a styled model call session where you can bring your own visions to life, have complete control and finally get those shots you have always been dreaming to have in your portfolio.
6. Enter a Photo Competition
Entering a photo competition can put some pep back in your step and make things exciting again. If you have a competitive personality it can force you to put 110% into a piece of work and then some. Plus, if you win, it will definitely put a smile on your face and it's always nice knowing someone else values your work. You can also try submitting your images to magazines.
7. Collaborate with Another Photographer
It's true what they say, two heads are better than one! It can be both inspiring and a great learning experience to work with another photographer. Whether both of you work on a project together or you simply trade services to take photos of each other, seeing how another photographer works can put great ideas into your head.
8. Try New or Creative Equipment
Buying new equipment is always exciting and can spark enthusiasm, but there are also many creative options out there that are sure to excite you - they also don't have to break the bank. There are many cheap options from Amazon, such as glass prisms or macro lens attachments.
Not sure how to use a glass prism? Check out this Petapixel article.
Lensbabys and freelensing are also great creative outlets!
9. Get Back to the Basics
If you learned photography on a film camera, or especially if you've never shot film, it can be incredibly rewarding to get back to the basics. Pick up that dusty film camera and get your hands dirty in the darkroom!
10. Take Part in a Shooting Challenge or Treasure Hunt
To get you started with creative ideas look online for different shooting challenges, like the popular 365 challenge, or photography treasure hunts. They will force you to pick up the camera for some fun and shoot subjects you normally wouldn't. These shots can be a variety of things, for something as simple as a pair of shoes to a styled portrait.
Here's another popular one from Petapixel.
11. Set up a Photo Gallery
Printing your work in itself is always satisfying and can give you the good feels. Why not let others see your printed work too? Chat to your local coffeeshops to see if you would be able to hang up some of your work or take part in a local gallery.
12. Delegate Tasks or Hire Help
Although owning your own business is always going to be tough in some ways it shouldn't be making you miserable or be constantly overwhelming. If you feel like you have too much on your plate seriously consider handing off some work to someone else and hiring help. Whether it is someone to edit your photos, handle your social media, place your orders, answer emails or schedule in clients - whatever it is that you need help keeping up with. A lot of this work can be done remotely so you don't have to worry if you don't have office space. Taking the stress off of yourself will allow you to enjoy your work again and focus on the things that are important to you.
Do you have other tips to help stay inspired and happy in business? Let us know!
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