Stuck in a Rut with your Photography? Take our #30in30challenge and revive your passion!
Hey Tea Break Togs – we’ve had a break but the podcast is back for a whole new season starting today with a challenge. I have a photography challenge for you – are you up for it? I hope so because it just might be the turning point you have been waiting for…
So I’m going to kick off episode 44 with a confession. I’m going to tell you something that I have really been struggling with in my photography recently and I know that some of you will be able to relate. So have a listen (or read if you prefer…)
After launching ‘Master Natural Light’ I took some down time. The kids came off school for the Easter holidays and I really wanted to spend some real quality time with them, which I did and it was fantastic. My husband and I took the kids away for five days to a little lodge on a loch and we had an absolute ball just walking, building fires and just re-connecting, you know?
It was amazing.
We then had a long weekend away the following week with family to celebrate my parents’ wedding anniversary and my mum’s birthday. Again, it was just wonderful to be together without any of that day-to-day normality which seems to get in the way of really enjoying each other doesn’t it?
For both trips I, of course, packed the camera. But it was more out of habit than desire. I took it but I didn’t have the usual excitement about the photographs I was going to take. In fact, I hardly thought about that at all. Usually this would be something I would really look forward to.
Throughout both trips away I took a grand total of 12 photographs. And even then, I wasn’t feeling it. It was an effort.
When we drove home after that second trip I fully intended to get right back into the podcast and my photography but this lack of passion for it whilst I was away was definitely inside my head. I was just feeling a bit detached from photography and the desire to create images.
Now I know this is not unusual. I hear from photographers all the time who tell me they have lost some or all of their passion for photography. And this isn’t the first time it has happened to me either.
I am certain that professional photographers suffer from this more than enthusiasts do. The reason being that when you take photographs for a living, sometimes your creativity suffers as a result.
As a professional photographer, you spend most of your time taking photographs for other people and trying to provide them with what they want. You are rarely getting the time to really immerse yourself in photography that truly feeds your creativity and keeps your passion alive.
Clients commission you because they have seen your work and they love it. So it is important that you provide them with images in line with what they have seen from you. The problem with that is that you might start to get a little bored with this style you have become known for.
You might be doing it so much that you become ‘stuck in a rut’.
This is, of course, a generalisation. There will be many professionals who never encounter this problem and keep themselves interested and enthusiastic with plenty of variety and creative opportunities. However, I know there will be many, like myself, who find themselves going through a bit of a creative slump from time to time.
It happens to enthusiasts too. You can become bored of the images you are capturing or you feel ‘stuck’ at a certain level and are struggling to progress beyond this.
Maybe you are caught in that horrible place of comparing yourself to other, more advanced, photographers. That is a highly unpleasant place to be.
Comparing yourself to others is a sure-fire way to absolutely cripple your vision and your progress.
When you enter a slump like this, for whatever reason, the urge to pick up your camera starts to fade. And of course, when you are not practicing and growing your skills – your development halts. That is so demoralising and obviously makes you even less likely to pick up your camera.
It’s a vicious cycle really and I know that some photographers, both professionals and enthusiasts, have been so badly affected by this that they have simply quit.
I am nowhere near quitting photography, thank goodness! But I am aware that I need to give myself a good kick up the backside and be proactive about this problem.
If you have been to one of my photography workshops then you will have heard me talk about a challenge to set yourself whenever you feel stuck in a creative rut. This is the challenge I am setting myself and I am going to challenge you to do it with me.
Are you up for it?
Let me explain how it will work – It’s very simple. I’m calling it the #30in30challenge. The idea is to visit an outdoor location of your choice. It doesn’t have to be a breathtaking location – somewhere simple is probably better for this.
When you get there your challenge is to take at least 30 different photographs in that location, in just 30 minutes.
There are only two rules. The 30 images must be different and they must be taken within 30 minutes. You can start as soon as you get there or you can take a bit of time to think first. But as soon as you press that shutter for the first time – your 30 minutes begins!
I know what you are thinking – no one will know if you cheated or not unless they were there.
But you will! Where is the fun in that? I trust you all!
Now if you are thinking that one image every minute seems tricky, when I say they must be different – that doesn’t mean that you can’t capture the same subject more than once. Not at all! In fact, you could capture the same subject lots of times as long as each image is captured differently, e.g. from a different angle, from a different distance, using a different depth of field/focal length, focusing on a different detail…
When you think of it like this 30 images in 30 minutes is actually totally realistic! You might capture 5 using one subject in just a minute or two and this will leave you with some thinking time in between. It’s entirely up to you how you choose to tackle it.
For example, one photographer might choose to take some time and think through each shot. They might only take 30 images in the allocated 30 minutes. Another photographer might take 130! They might take lots of similar shots and will allow for some duds (come on, we all get them!). The aim is to be able to choose your best 30 different images at the end. However you arrive at those 30 images is up to you.
Your images can be of anything at all within your chosen location.
If you want to take a person or people with you and incorporate them into some images, that is absolutely fine and it is what I will be doing.
And because I know that pressure can lead to creative paralysis – here is a list of prompts to help you!
- Where are the potential leading lines in your location? (Remember these are not always obvious.)
- What can you see around you that can act as foreground?
- Any texture you can capture? (peeling paint, rusting metal, long grass, tree bark etc…)
- Get down low – what could you capture from down there?
- Get up high – any interesting angles from this point of view?
- What do you see that could be a natural frame for your subject/scene?
- What’s crying out for a close-up?
- Any interesting wide-angle shots?
- What about little details of larger things?
- Do you see any beautiful or interesting light?
- Can you walk around one subject and capture it from different angles and in different light to create completely different images?
- Can you see any symmetry?
- What can you shoot with a shallow/deep depth of field?
- Any silhouette opportunities?
- Any reflection opportunities?
- Any interesting colours?
Take this list of prompts along with you and you shouldn’t be short of inspiration. Print off the image below…
But what will you do with your images after you have completed the challenge?
Well – simply pop them into a collage and upload your collage to our Facebook Group – Tea Break Togs. Make sure you include the hashtag #30in30challenge
If you are not a member of our Facebook group – swing by and request to join. It’s a great place to be!
Please make sure it is our Facebook group you upload your collages to and not our main Facebook business page – we really might not see it if you put it there.
If you are not on Facebook that doesn’t mean you can’t join in with the challenge! Do this just for yourself or you can email your collage to me at [email protected] if you want to share it.
The main thing is doing it!
Just to be clear. This is not about getting 30 amazing images. This is about getting 30 decent images. If you managed 30 outstanding images in 30 minutes you wouldn’t be human. The purpose of this challenge is to get you out there taking photographs. Pushing you out of your comfort zone so that you are forced to consider images that you otherwise wouldn’t think of taking. You never know – it might just be the start of something!
Don’t worry if you have no idea how to create a collage with 30 images. I have made a 5 minute video showing you how to do this with Google Picasa which is completely free to download and super easy to use. You can find the video below…
I know what your next question will be! How long have you got to take part in this challenge? Well it did cross my mind to make this the #ThursdayTheme for this week but then I thought one week was not really long enough to give as many people a chance to do this as possible. I didn’t want to be a meanie.
So we are going to dedicate the month of May to this. You have one whole month to undertake this #30in30challenge.
Leave me a comment below if you are going to take part!