Why Do We Lose Motivation to Make Photos?

Eric kim bathroom selfie. Osaka, 2018

Why do we lose motivation to make photos, and how can we re-inspire or motivate ourselves when we feel in a creative slump?

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Osaka abstract yellow

Some theories:

  1. We lose motivation to make photos because we’ve (already) worked really hard to make a good body of work, yet we feel like our work isn’t getting the traction, acclaim, or positive feedback we expect. Thus, we might feel, “What is the point? No matter how hard I try, I’ll never be able to build a large and dedicated following.” Solution: Spend more time making photos for yourself, by NOT sharing your photos with others for a month.
  2. We lose motivation because it is cold, wet, or the weather outside isn’t good: This is legitimate. To overcome that, have lots of extra coffee, cold showers, workout at the gym, to get more physiological energy and motivation to go out and shoot! Or just invest in better winter clothes and warmer/waterproof shoes, to be able to brave the weather. In Sweden there is a good saying, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”
  3. We lose motivation because we’re exhausted with our day jobs: If your job is mentally or physically taxing, you’re not going to have the energy to make photos. Because making photos does require a lot of physical and mental energy. Solution: Don’t take your job too seriously, don’t bring work home, don’t work the extra shift, and don’t stay later than you need to. Your photography and artistic output is more important than your day labor.

Treat photography (and life) like a game

Osaka urban landscape skyline. 2018
Osaka skyline. 2018

I’ve been philosophizing, and thinking:

What if life were a game? What if we played life like a game (specifically, a role-playing RPG game, where we are the heroes?) How would we have fun, level ourselves up, get stronger, and avoid boredom?

Applied to photography or our lives, or artwork, these are practical ideas we can apply:

  1. Avoid boredom at all costs: To me the opposite of happiness is boredom. And boredom to me is worse than the deepest pits of hell. Avoid boredom by increasing your challenge and difficulty. Therefore challenge yourself more in photography by making more difficult compositions, by working on more challenging photography projects, and by pushing your creative muscles to the next level — study more great artists, photographers, and creators from the past.
  2. Novelty: Don’t keep doing the same thing over and over again if it bores you. You need fun, novelty, and different/newness. It is inside our human DNA: we thrive off novelty. Therefore shoot different genres of photography, shoot in different neighborhoods, travel more, or shoot a different aesthetic in photography (shoot film, or black and white instead of color, etc).
  3. Level up: Level up your understanding of art by studying the masters of photography, the masters of art, and by reading philosophy. Strengthen your visual mind and brain, and also your intellectual-philosophical side. A strong artist has a strong mind (and body).

Physical fitness

Abstract shadow selfie, Osaka

My theory: I think photography and art making requires a lot of physical strength and concentration. Thus, the more muscle you have, the less body fat you have, the more energy you will have to make more photos and art.


  1. Lose body fat: Practice intermittent fasting (don’t eat breakfast and lunch, only a massive dinner), totally abstain and cut out sugars, starches, and simple carbohydrates, and drink more black coffee and tea.
  2. Build muscle: Do pushups, chin-ups, or yoga at home or go to the gym and do deadlifts, squats, heavy dumbbell presses (easier on the shoulder than bench press, and safer). After workouts, eat fatty meat and eggs to build your muscle.
  3. Eat more bitter foods: Bitter herbs, bitter black coffee, and bitter teas. Bitter foods are “hormetic” foods — the bitterness stimulates our bodies to have more energy. To learn more about hormesis (getting stronger through positive stress), I recommend gettingstronger.org

Own your own platform

Eric kim feet selfie, laptop, Osaka

Make your own photography blog/website via bluehost.com, and install the wordpress.org framework. Then buy the “Genesis theme”, and start posting your own photos to YOUR OWN PLATFORM. Avoid posting photos to Facebook and Instagram.

If you want to build a following, I recommend building an email newsletter with mailchimp.com.

Allow yourself to make bad photos

Eric kim Osaka selfie, 2018

I think we also lose motivation to make new photos because we feel frustrated that it has been so long since we made a good photo. Whenever we expect to go out and make good photos, and we go back home without any good photos, we lose motivation to go out next time to shoot (because we worry that we won’t make any good photos anyways, “so what is the point?”)

Cindy walking streets of Osaka. Blue tones. Street

Solution: Never expect to make good photos. Rather, have fun when you shoot, allow yourself to make bad photos.

Realize the realistic fact that the more often you go out and shoot, the more likely you are to make good photos.

Therefore, focus on the frequency you go out to shoot, not the likelihood of you making good photos.

You got this. Just shoot!



30 DAYS TO JUMPSTART YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY is your month long quest to achieve daily inspirational, contemplative, and observational photography challenges.

If you have a hard time staying inspired in your photography or don’t know what to photograph, find motivation through 30 DAYS TO JUMPSTART YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY.