One of my friends asked me: “Eric, what should I do if I’ve totally lost my passion or inspiration for photography” This is what I would tell him:
1. Think about duty, not passion
First of all, know that “passion” is a bit of a misnomer in photography and life. Meaning– passion isn’t the same as enthusiasm.
- Passion is this intense burning desire for something. It borders on something that is painful (think of the “passion” or crucification of Jesus Christ).
- Enthusiasm is having a strong interest in something. It comes from Greek/Latin — the idea that you are inspired by a god.
Honestly, I have no idea where passion or enthusiasm comes from.
However, know that you don’t always need to be passionate or enthusiastic about what you do. I feel rather, it is more important to have a strong sense of duty.
There are many days I don’t feel passionate or enthusiastic about photography, blogging, or teaching. However whenever I think about how many people I can help empower, and a strong sense of duty comes over me, I feel ready to do my life’s work.
2. Take a break
For you, if you’ve lost your passion for photography, take a break. Know that you don’t always need to take photographs. Often taking a break will help you replenish your creative resources.
I would also recommend putting away your camera for extended periods of time, and trying out a different art form. Try out painting, dance, theater, or any other form of art. Perhaps photography isn’t your life’s passion — it is something else.
I would also recommend trying to use the simplest camera possible. For me, the bigger and more complicated my camera, the less likely I am to make photographs. I prefer either shooting with my smartphone, or my compact Ricoh GR II camera. I keep the camera in “P” mode (program mode) which allows me to just point and click. I like to think less when I’m shooting, and focus more on the emotions I am trying to capture.
3. Think steady-burning coals, not gasoline
Another analogy I can think about is love.
In a relationship (when you’re young) there is a deep intense passion between a couple. However as time goes on, the love the couple has is less intense and passionate, and more steady.
- A young love is like pouring gasoline on a fire.
- A mature love is like steady burning coals.
Think long-term for your photography. You don’t need to take 1,000 photos everyday and always be productive. You want to aim for the long-term game. To make photographs that bring you personal satisfaction after decades. If you can even make one photography project (or one photo) that brings you personal satisfaction at the end of your life, you’ve done your job as a photographer.
4. Don’t take yourself too seriously; have fun
Also don’t take your photography too seriously. Remember, photography should be fun.
When I take my photography or writing too seriously, I have less fun, and am less inspired to actually do creative work. When I try to channel my inner-child, my creativity explodes and pours forth.
5. Don’t forget what photography is all about
Once again, never forget the purpose of photography is to enhance your life, your sense of purpose, and meaning. The purpose of photography isn’t to be the world’s best photographer. Rather, it is to enjoy your life, to serve others, and to share your creative potential with others.