Here are some of my personal life hacks, tips, exercises, and activities I use for me to be more inspired, motivated, energetic, and productive as a photographer/visual artist.
1. Drink black coffee or green tea
If you want a creative “shot” of inspiration (pun intended), take a double shot of espresso (black), drink some cold brew, or some strong green/matcha tea.
2. Listen to some “pump it up” music
If you’re sitting at home, and feeling lethargic, and don’t feel inspired or motivated to leave home, listen to some pump it up music, and put up the volume/bass high! Blast your speakers, or listen to some bass-heavy headphones.
Or, try to experiment going out to shoot street photography with headphones in, while listening to music.
3. Call up a friend to go on a “photo walk” to go make photos
You might not make the best photos when shooting with a friend or other people, but you certainly will be motivated to leave the house, and you will end up taking photos.
To me, it is better to take bad photos than no photos.
And if anything, even though you might not make any good photos, at least you are being social, and spending time with friends. Being social is one of the best ways to combat depression and lethargy in our everyday life.
4. Go to a coffee shop
Grab your camera, a photo book you like, and visit the local coffee or tea shop. I usually find coffee shops good sources of inspiration. I usually see other “artsy” folks at the coffee shop, and usually after an espresso (or two), I will have the motivation and energy to walk around the block and shoot some street photography.
5. Go to dinner or a bar, and bring your camera along
If you want inspiration to go make more photos, go out to dinner or to a bar, and bring along your camera. Sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to go out, because we are trying to save money. I say if photography is important mental therapy for you, consider the money you spend on dinner/a drink as an investment for you to have an excuse to go out and make photos.
Maybe you can have dinner with yourself, with a friend, or with your partner.
6. Don’t eat breakfast or lunch
For myself, I have the most inspiration to move, and be active when I am “intermittent fasting” by not eating breakfast or lunch.
This is my rationale:
Hunger is the motivating force which forces us to move, and go “hunt” for food. Physiologically, once we have eaten food or a meal, our body no longer has incentive to move.
And as photographers, we need to move in order to make photos.
Thus, if you are lethargic or feel lazy, perhaps it is because you are over-taxing your body with food.
Also a tip: try to stick to a high-fat, low carbohydrate diet (I follow a mostly “ketogenic” diet which works well for me in terms of energy — lots of fatty meats, eggs, and leafy greens). I abstain completely from sugar, starch, and carbohydrates.
7. Ice cold shower
If you are home on the weekend, and want to go out and shoot, yet cannot feel the motivation — take an icy cold shower.
There is some new scientific literature which shows that cold exposure increases mitochondrial activity in our bodies (creates energy). Thus, cold exposure (cold showers) motivates us to move, and we get more energy.
If you’re new to cold showers, start off really hot, then end at the end very cold. Eventually shorten the duration of the hot showers, and increase the duration of cold. Eventually, you will be able to just go in 100% ice cold. Trust me, it feels a little painful (even now), but after the ice cold shower, you will feel massive amounts of energy. To me, an ice cold shower is better than taking a triple shot of espresso.
8. Start off the day with lifting heavy stuff
If you want more energy and motivation to move, start off the day in the morning by going to the gym and doing heavy deadlifts, squats, or dumbbell presses. Or just wake up, and do some intense pushups or yoga at home. When I start off the day with physical movement and exercise, I always get a huge rush of energy — energy which I can harness in a creative way (going out of my house to take photos, drive to a downtown area to shoot, or even make photos at home).
9. Simplify your creative process
Reduce as much friction which gets in the way of your creative output.
For example, stick with one camera, one lens, to avoid “paralysis by analysis” in photography. I know for myself in the past, having too many cameras, lenses, and equipment made me not want to take photos at all, because I was worried I wouldn’t have the “optimal” camera for the task at hand. Now, I just stick with RICOH GR II and even though it’s not the best camera for all situations, I just make do.
If your passion is writing, use the simplest writing tool possible. Write on your phone, tablet, or laptop. Use a simple tool like IA WRITER. Or just go old school: write with a pen and pad. I recommend starting off focusing on production of words, sentences, and paragraphs in a “stream of consciousness” flow, rather than worrying about making every word and sentence perfect.
10. Better to do something poorly than to not do it at all
Many of us let perfectionism get in the way of us making stuff. Perfectionism is the enemy. Remember what our friend Voltaire said,
“Perfection is the enemy of the good.”
Or in other words,
Better to do something “good” than perfect.
I myself follow the “80% good enough” principle: I try to get a creative product or something I make 80% “good enough” then I just hit publish. This applies to my videos, my photos, my blog posts, my poetry, and my music.
I’ve found in my personal experience, the more you make, the more you publish, the more you produce, the more confidence, skill, and energy you will gain in your creative will and power.
Just keep doing it.
“The rolling stone gathers no moss.” – Publilus Syrus
Creative inertia is the enemy. Just keep the ball rolling, as Publilius Syrus once wisely said over 2,000 years ago.
Be creative everyday by making stuff everyday. Make sentences, make pictures, make poems, music, dance movements, or anything which expresses your creative soul.
Disregard whether your art is good or bad, just focus on making it fun and authentic to you.
Also remember to be fully inspired, creative, powerful, and active/motivated as a photographer and artist, we must be diligent about BOTH our mental and physical performance.
Be careful about the substances you consume, whether it be drugs, alcohol, or any other form of stimulant/depressant. Be careful about the company you keep: one nay-sayer in your social circle can kill or ruin your entrepreneurial passions.
Limit your sugar intake, increase your caffeine intake, increase your physical activity, walking, movement, and creative output. So far that is what I have as a basic blueprint to an active, productive, fulfilling, and happy life.
NEVER STOP MAKING,