The thing I have been working on my whole life:
What is the secret to photographic motivation?
I think I have found (some) keys, which I outline in this blog post, but also more info below:
First of all, I have been motivated a lot by children. Why kids? Because– they have no sense of ‘good’ or ‘bad’– they just play and do. For example give any kid a digital camera or phone, and they love to just run around and shoot photos of anything and everything, with no notions of ‘good’ compositions or ‘cliche’ photos or whatnot. I am convinced– the enemy of creativity as a photographer is becoming more ‘serious’ and adult-like. Children are the ultimate photographic heroes.
Second, I find that genres are the worst pollutant to our creative minds and souls. The best genre in photography is no genre. This means, allow yourself to shoot anything and everything. Whenever you start to classify your ‘style’ as a photographer– beware, there is a hidden trap somewhere.
Third, I find monochrome to be the best motivator in photography. Why? Almost everything looks better in monochrome.
Also with films, watch monochrome films. In my cinema list, I have found all the monochrome films by Akira Kurosawa (7 Samurai and such) to be great, as it forces you to use your imagination to see the compositions better.
In praise of photo projects
I also recommend doing a photo project. You can either start a photo project with a preconceived notion in your mind, or you can figure it out as you go.
I find working on a photography project to be a ‘full stack’ experience. Why? Even when you edit and sequence your photos, it is a creative act.
Certainly that is not the only way to go about it, but I find generally, being anti the ‘one great photo’ (to optimize your social media likes and followers) to be bad for creativity. Deleting my Instagram to be the best thing I have done photographically.
Pay it forward
I also find that ultimately, the apex is to become a photography teacher and educator. You can teach kids, middle school kids, high school kids, college kids, your friends and family, whoever! You can do it in person, online (via Zoom) or via your own blog.
Easiest to start your own blog via wordpress.com, or the more difficult (but worthwhile) solution: signup via bluehost.com and install wordpress.org
What is the end-game?
Past the accolades, world travels, making your passion your living, exhibitions, publications, etc… the goal is the never-ending journey:
To never stop having that child-like curiosity about photography, and to test the limits of photography.
Turbo photo material
From my books:
- Photography Empowerment Manual [PDF LINK]
- PDF: Henri Cartier-Bresson Photography Composition Studies [PDF LINK #1, PDF #2]
- Street Photography 103
If you’re hungry to take your street photography to the next level, join me at one of my upcoming street photography workshop experiences:
- August 27 (Friday): SEATTLE MASTER STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP – [NOW LIVE!]
- September 11 (Saturday): DOWNTOWN LA ADVANCED STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP – [NEW!]