Where do we get the will to shoot? And how can we augment this feeling?
I think we photographers all have an inner will to shoot. I know when I was a beginner in photography, I had “beginner’s mind”:
No obstructions, no rules, no pressures. I shot anything and everything without hesitation, self-consciousness, or barriers.
However the more experienced I got in photography, my will to shoot started to get obstructed. I would start to overthink photography– sometimes not shooting a scene because I would think:
I’ve already shot that before.
Someone else has already shot it before (better than I ever could).
Now this is the thing: you still have the will to shoot, but you end up obstructing your own will to shoot, because you care too much about making “good” photos (defined what others consider is a good photo).
It seems the solution is then:
- Don’t think so much when you’re shooting
- Allow yourself to shoot “bad” photos
- Shoot things that you’ve shot before in the past (or if you’ve shot similar situations before).
Or in short:
JUST SHOOT IT.
Where does the will to shoot come from?
A more interesting question:
What is the will to shoot, or where does it even come from?
I define the will to shoot as an impulse to shoot a photograph of something, or of a certain scene.
And where does this impulse come from? My theory:
The impulse to shoot a photograph comes for many different reasons. It might include some of the following:
- We are experiencing something very joyful or wonderful, and we want to immortalize that moment, in the hope of elongating that wonderful experience (perhaps in the future).
- When we shoot something, we are acknowledging it as beautiful, special, and worthy of our attention.
- We photograph things, scenes, or people to better understand it/them. Perhaps what a botanist does when classifying flowers or certain species/genuses. Thus the photographer as a classifier, categorizer (think of Plato and how he wanted to define and name and classify everything).
My will to shoot
I think the will to shoot as an impulse is something more physiological, something that lies in our subconscious. But if I try to think about why I shoot photos, this is what comes to mind:
- I shoot scenes which I find odd, strange, or novel.
- I shoot scenes which I consider beautiful. I also photograph people I consider beautiful (doesn’t have to be the standard notion of beauty–I can see beauty in the wrinkles of a 95 year old woman as beautiful).
- My desire to create artwork: Photography as an artistic outlet; without photography life is not as bright. Photography brightens our existence.
- My desire to photograph something in order to examine it in fuller detail later (photography as memory augmentation).
- My desire to memorialize and immortalize certain personal joyful moments with my loved ones, friends, family.
- My desire to immortalize myself (selfies), perhaps to examine how I look, and perhaps to think about myself and my own death.
- Visual sociology: The camera as a tool to analyze and dissect society, in the hope to change it for the “better” through my own critique.
Do you want to augment your will to shoot?
So this is the thought I think most people have on their minds, which causes them distress as photographers:
“I wish I felt more inspired or motivated to shoot photos.”
“I wish I had more time or opportunities to shoot more photos.”
Now these are two different things; let us try to dissect them.
1. Feeling more inspiration or motivation to shoot more
Why do you want to feel more motivation to shoot more?
I think it is because you feel most joyful and powerful when you’re shooting photos. Thus, you love that feeling of creative power, thus you want to continue to experience that feeling (I encourage this), by wanting to keep shooting photos.
So the ideal thing we are striving towards is to enter this “creative zone” or state of “flow” more often. This means to:
- Always have your camera in your front pocket, in your bag, or around your neck.
- Whenever you see anything which interests you, just shoot it.
- When you’re photographing a scene, work it (shoot lots of photos of the scene) while also trying to compose and frame the best possible image.
- When you got free time, instead of just staying at home, go out and shoot photos! Go by yourself, or bring along a friend (call a friend to shoot with, like a shooting partner, how we have gym partners for support).
2. Having more time or opportunities to shoot photos
Just shoot with RICOH GR II (fits in your front pocket) or just shoot with your phone.
Most of us live everyday lives (going to our 9-5 jobs), and most of us aren’t always out in foreign places to photograph. Thus perhaps we should adapt our cameras and equipment for our more domesticated living and lifestyle. And we should also adapt our shooting style, approach, and subject matter to our current lifestyle.
Perhaps if you don’t always have the opportunity to photograph, pick up new forms of artistic self expression.
This means don’t only be dependent on photography. Write, draw, make videos, make music, dance; all forms of artistic self expression is good.
Shoot all day, everyday, with the simplest and smallest camera possible.
If you’re not always shooting photos, don’t fret. Just focus on artistic self expression, via any means.
Allow yourself to shoot “bad” photos. Don’t over-intellectualize or over-think photography.
When in doubt,
Just keep shooting it!