Stuck in a Photographic Rut and Losing Momentum

Discussion in 'Philosophy of Photography' started by Andrewteee, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 8, 2010
    I'm in a photographic rut and would appreciate some advice. Basically, I'm searching for a way to keep the photographic momentum moving forward under serious time constraints.

    It seems my passion for photography is shrinking. Between work and family and the general business of life I find that my available free time (and energy) is, as the saying goes, few and far between. In the past it seemed that I had enough momentum to keep things going and to keep learning and make progress. But now it seems to be really nothing more than the random family snapshot every now and then. I don't have time to go out and "take pictures", which for me anyway requires some time to get to know an area and allow the photographic opportunities to open up. The result of this seems to be that I can't take very good pictures - I'm out of practice. And thus my interest and passion are waning, but I simply don't want that to happen. I love photography too much to let it go.

    I believe that family and work should be my priorities (I'll often go out with the family without a single camera nowadays, so I am more present), but I need and want something that is my own, something that fosters a creative outlet to feed my mind. Our kids are young (5 and 3) and it will be many years before I have more reflective time; for now, it seems to be survival, just getting through each day.

    Do you have any advice or techniques that can foster photographic practice that are opportunistic in nature or that otherwise keep the passion and momentum engaged? I read about photography and I view photobooks daily, but I want to take pictures myself and not just view the work of others.

    Very much appreciated!

    PS I know there was a similar thread to this theme in the past, but I was unable to find it. Apologies for the overlap.
     
  2. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
  3. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    Aw, Don, I wish you'd posted your advice. I remember well the Image Quests over on Mu43 which were extremely helpful. I also remember a particular suggestion you made about staying in one room and looking within it. When Mu43 comes back up, I may root around over there to add some links here because they were all very helpful.

    Andrew, from my own perspective, I can say that sometimes it is OK to take a break and to try to be less critical of oneself for not taking photos. In addition, maybe if you could try a different approach to having the camera with you and just shooting in a less proscribed manner...and going for whatever you see, instead of feeling that you really need to go out ahead of time to scout the area for what you'd like to photograph? Strictly from my own point of view, I find that photography is a natural extension of whatever else is going on...and that moments present themselves - we just have to be able to take advantage of them by having our camera at the ready. That said, there've been plenty of times when I haven't had my camera and wished I had.

    This Single in January is a very different thing for me - I don't like to feel pressured to "take" or make a picture. Instead, I am trying to use it as the encouragement to carry my camera with me much more than I might usually. I don't go out looking...I just go out. Not sure if this makes sense or is helpful to you.

    P.S. This may be one of the threads you were thinking of Andrew... https://www.photographerslounge.org/f14/ok-im-struggling-little-bit-799/ you might give it a read through and see what you think.

    P.P.S. And although not quite the same as what you're asking, I think it has relevance: https://www.photographerslounge.org/f14/where-you-your-photo-journey-597/
     
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  4. snake

    snake SC Regular

    194
    Oct 4, 2011
    Go out without a camera, frame things you see and lament opportunities lost, and then you might get it back. That's what I did once.
     
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  5. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 8, 2010
    Don, emailed.

    BB, thanks! I have learned not to commit to any daily commitments; even in the best of times it's challenging to keep up with things like daily pictures (maybe weekly is better). I admit I can put immense pressure on myself. I both love photography and simply want to do it like one wants to breathe, but I also set high expectations for my work and I can be overly self critical. I should put that to rest and relax :smile: And thanks for the links - I'll check them out.

    Snake, interesting idea. I do know that learning photography has helped me to see more clearly, and when in places I might normally take a camera but I don't have one I'm more present in the things I see and just might appreciate them more for what they are.
     
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  6. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Real Name:
    Sue
    You'll be glad to know then, Andrew, that it does, indeed, only *seem* that way. Your passion for photography may have to be put on hold for a while, perhaps even for a long time, but it will still be there. The very fact that you posted means that the passion is there, you're just running out of steam at the moment and thats not that unusual. One day, you'll get a shot perhaps even by accident, and you'll have that "OMG what have I been missing" moment and suddenly you will be back into it again.

    Remember, there is no rule that says that to be a keen photographer you must shoot every day. No rules.
     
  7. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 12, 2010
    Philly, Pa
    Well, I wouldn't post advice for this as its a very personal issue.
    Andrew, I'll email you later...if you have Skype... That could be usefull..
    Don
     
  8. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    Understood, Don.

    Andrew, here is a link to the Image Quest forum over on Mu43. I think you might find it useful to look through there as you have time. They appear to be in reverse order - the first quest is at the bottom. You might want to start with Trigger Mechanism.. Just a suggestion. I remember them being extremely helpful to me. As a matter of fact, I think I'll spend some time reading there, as well.
     
  9. Wouter Brandsma

    Wouter Brandsma   S.C. Charter Member

    116
    Jul 7, 2010
  10. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Real Name:
    Bill Palmer
    Andrew, I do understand where you are coming from. I have a son who is now 18 but I remember how hard it was to keep my mojo going when he was young. I even wrote a maagazine article about it - "The Family Photographer" - which I will dig out and post on here. For now, there is one thing I would say - don't force it. We all have dry periods from time to time, often for exceptionally good reasons of family or career. You will stress yourself more if you try to fit a quart into a pint pot than if you go with the flow.

    I hope this helps, I will post the old article when I get the chance.
     
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  11. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 8, 2010
    Thanks everyone for the responses! I did not quite expect so much, but that's why I think SC is such a great place for these discussions. I was adamant about posting because it felt like complaining, but I really want to find a way through this, and the right balance of things in life (don't we all!). Wouter described it as the doldrums, which I think is a perfectly apt term.

    Having to put things "on hold" for a while sounds depressing (I'm already middle age and "a while" may go quickly). But like so many other have told me numerous times, the kids are growing up fast and I don't want to be distracted while they do.

    Balance...
     
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  12. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator Moderator

    Jul 3, 2010
    Andrew, I feel like I could have written the exact same post. Thanks for expressing it so well. I hope some of the input in this thread can help us out!
     
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  13. Grant

    Grant SC Veteran

    249
    Nov 12, 2010
    Lunenburg Nova Scotia
    Oh like this had never happened to me … ¡ NOT !

    I can fill you with lies and claptrap about how to get out of your rut but the truth is … I just keep on shooting those sh*tty pictures day in and day out. One day, I can never tell when, I look at my work and say, "That is a good one!" Once that happens I look back at all those bad ones and realize there are some gems among them. See the fault was with me not my art. I think its was Winston Churchill who referred it to the black dog on his back. Just hang in there, have some fun, don't take it too seriously and soon you will be back on track.
     
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  14. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    For what it's worth, from a first person standpoint. I was a fine arts photography major, doing my own color printing in my bathroom for both prints and slides. I only mention the details because I want you to understand how deeply I was into photography. Anyone that spends 8 hours in a darkroom knows what I mean, if they, too, came out loving the time they'd been in there to get their prints just right. I graduated from college in 1978...kept up my work, but rarely was paid for it. Still loved it. Time and tide wait for no man and all that...work, marriage, parents becoming ill and needing my help, baby born, eyesight changing...no more film cameras without auto focus...soon just using a Canon Elph... Now suddenly, our daughter head off to college! Away from home!:eek:

    I start looking around to figure out whether maybe I'll get back into photography with a camera offering controls - and find my way to Mu43 thanks to an ad in The Online Photographer. This was what - two years ago?! Ever since then I've found my way back into the art that I loved. Andrew, I'm 57...so hang in there, you're probably just going through a dry spell but it will change, that I can pretty much promise. Hope this helps a bit, even if it's more for perspective.:flowers_2:

    P.S. I had missed your most excellent advice Grant. Three cheers for Mr. Churchill's sage advice!
     
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  15. Brian

    Brian SC Top Veteran S.C. Charter Member

    638
    Jul 7, 2010
    I almost always take a camera with me on family outings, and my daughter and friends are primary subjects. When she is invited to a Party, I usually bring a camera along. As far as the pictures- the family loves the results, parents of my daughter's friends appreciate the pictures as well.

    My daughter took an early interest in using the cameras that see was used to seeing me use. By age 4 she could frame a nice picture, now she can use almost any camera that I have. It is an interest that "rubbed off" by virtue of a camera being a normal part of an outing. She has used cameras from the Leica M3, Nikon SP, up through the M8. Does well with them.

    Kids aged 3 and 5- you get two new sets of eyes to see the world.
     
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  16. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Real Name:
    Sue
    Hmm, when I said "put things on hold" I didnt really mean you should stop even thinking about it. Goodness! Its just that life intervenes whether we want it to or not, and priorites will change, often. I guess what I wanted to say is that its OK not to shoot if life and times dont permit it. It doesnt mean your passion is gone, it just means that other things are more important right now. And theres nothing wrong with family snaps. If you push yourself to produce, it is likely to have the very opposite effect. Those "triggers" BBW has pointed to might help, but it doesnt seem to me to be an issue of not knowing what to photograph, but rather finding the time and space to do it.
     
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  17. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 8, 2010
    True. My son, who's 5 (almost 6), likes to use my Fuji Instax because the results are immediate. He's also using my "old" Ricoh GRD3 now. He likes it, but primarily he loves to draw and construct things. A future architect.
     
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  18. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 8, 2010
    Bingo! Nonetheless, I think this is a good opportunity to learn about a few triggers that may spark something new.
     
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  19. olli

    olli Super Moderator Emeritus

    Sep 28, 2010
    Metro Manila
    Real Name:
    olli
    My situation isn't yours - no kiddies for a start - but I have been struggling in my own way for a while. Here's why. Every two years I move to a new country. Everywhere else I have previously lived I lived right in the heart of the city - I could walk out the door any day and find an abundance of photo opportunities.

    When I moved here to Tbilisi for the first time I wasn't in the city; I'm on the edge of the edge of the city. Apart from the houses I and my neighbours live in there is nothing else here. Having been used to walking out my door and taking pictures I struggled with this for months - and still do, though to a lesser extent.

    In the end the way I found to keep my interest and enthusiasm going was to find a project. For me the project was a local neighbourhood about 15 minutes walk from where I live called Didi Digomi. Now I try to photograph there regularly (though regularly can mean as much as twice a week or as little as once a month). I also recently set up a blog as a means of publishing the pictures I had accumulated. I have found that this has at least kept me engaged photographically even if the circumstances are not ideal. So, my suggestion is that you might get some benefit from thinking about a project of some kind, the terms of which you set entirely for yourself.

    The other thing I have found helpful is to use the time I have when I am not photographing to work on my post=processing skills with Lightroom. As I have developed my abilities I have also gone back to old photographs and reprocessed some of them - sometimes its almost like taking a new picture.

    Anyway, good luck. You'll not be short of advice and I'm sure something in all of it will make sense for you.
     
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  20. Landshark

    Landshark PhotoDog S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 15, 2010
    SoCal
    Real Name:
    Bob
    I have had many different interests and hobbies over the years, many have come and gone, the one thing they all share in common is that they take up time, time that many times one needs to spend else ware, family, work, school, whatever. The ones that you have a true passion for will easily allow you to take a break, the ones you really have the passion for will not drop away, others just do, it is all very personal.
    As I stated in an earlier post not only do I have time constraints with hobbies, photography included but also I suffer at times from photo burn out because it is also my job. Still I find from all of my different interests photography for me is the most forgiving of my time, because photography is something one can include in your everyday life. By just taking a camera with you, even a cell phone camera will work, as you go about your day, you can choose to record or not. I rarely say to myself for example I am going out this Saturday to shoot, or that I have to shoot this or that. I just have some small camera with me most of the time using it sometimes but many times not.
    I also find that when I spend time with family and friends that if I treat my photography very casually, it does not in anyway distract from the time we spend together.
    Many of my other interest are not so easy to add to my daily activities, so they wait until I have the time.
    Just my perspective others may differ
     
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