Have you ever been ready to work on your photography and just felt uninspired and unmotivated?
I definitely have! And it’s pretty frustrating!
What you want is a boost of MOTIVATION!
The good news is that no one NEEDS to feel motivated to create, but it really does make the work more enjoyable. Even if motivation isn’t a necessity, as a photographer and creative, I want it more often.
For my own benefit, I’ve done a deep dive into what to do when motivation is lacking. There are quite a few ways to give it a boost and actually keep the motivation alive. These are my favorite tips and ideas, especially for photographers like you:
#1 Try Something New
Sometimes you lack motivation because the thing you’re working on just isn’t challenging enough. You’re bored. Challenging yourself can be tricky because you KNOW there is going to be work ahead. But, guided by intuition and with just the “right” amount of creative push, your motivation can skyrocket quickly.
So, how can you ”up” your current challenge level?
- Try a new genre of photography. Walk your city/town and try out some street photography. How about some macro or wildlife photography?
- Learn a new editing technique or play around with a familiar one.
- Grab a lesser-used lens and use that next time you’re in the field.
This is purely for fun and should involve zero creative risk. The point is to experiment, play, and do it without any pressure to create a photograph you love. These kinds of challenges can be big or small. If you are stagnating and feel a little bored, now might be the right time to give yourself a little extra push.
Recommended Reading: What is ICM Photography? (And How to Master It)
#2 Create an Environment of Success
Ask yourself: “Is there a physical change I could make to increase my chances of success?”. In other words, is there something you could do to create less resistance in getting started? Do yourself a favor and design an environment that makes it easier to create! Then, you won’t need to rely on motivation to get you going.
Here are some ways I create this for myself:
- An art book placed on my desk makes it easy to pick it up and get inspired
- Packing my camera bag the night before an early photo adventure creates less resistance to getting up with my alarm
- Putting my phone on silent focus mode makes me less distracted when I’m ready to edit my images
Try one (or all) of these and then come up with your own.
#3 Find a Good Mentor
A GOOD mentor can motivate and push you in your creative work. They can tell you just what you need, even when it’s hard to hear. A mentor helps keep you “on track” to move forward on your creative goals and can be one of your biggest cheerleaders.
If you already have this person (or people), then GREAT! You know how valuable and motivating mentorship is. If you don’t have a mentor, where can you find one?
I have had many mentors. Some I have found through paid workshops. Some have been the result of an email. I return to the ones that feel “right” for me. In order to evaluate if a mentor is “right” for you, here’s what to look for:
- Has a personality you can relate to
- Are knowledgeable/experienced in a photographic style you like
- Has recommendations from people you trust
- Asks great questions
- Guides you to answers instead of telling you what to do
- Gives honest feedback
- Treats you with respect and compassion
- Celebrates success with you
Use this list to evaluate mentors who will be the most helpful to you on your creative journey. Then, trust yourself to reach out to them when you want some major motivation.
#4 Ditch “Not Good Enough”
Thinking you’re not “good enough” is a MOTIVATION killer.
Believing that phrase CAN get you moving forward, BUT what really happens is that we are motivated by fear.
Fear of not being perfect.
Fear of failing.
Fear of not being up to someone else’s standards.
All this ends up feeling heavy and takes SO much energy. It’s not a sustainable kind of motivation. I explained this to a client in a recent coaching session. I told this amazing human that it was now ok to get rid of not “good enough”. It was like an invisible weight was lifted off their shoulders!
Can YOU get rid of it now too??
What would ditching that belief about you do for your photography?
If you’re anything like me, then you’ve said this phrase A LOT! And that’s ok.
If you decide you want to do the work to ditch not being “good enough”, here are some things to consider:
- Be kind to yourself. This work is a journey.
- Be compassionate and non-judge-y. Like me, this is probably default thinking, and every time you notice it, you are winning.
- Decide it’s not true. You ARE good enough. Actually, you are MORE than that. Decide what that is. Remind yourself often.
As you do this, you’ll find yourself with a different kind of motivation. You can surprise yourself with what that is!
#5 Love Your Work
Want to have endless motivation? LOVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY!
I’m not talking about liking your work only sometimes when you think it’s “good enough” or ready for other people to see. I’m talking about being completely in LOVE with everything you create… ALWAYS.
Loving your work is about ditching negative criticism in favor of objective evaluation. It’s about loving the experimental bits and even the parts you trash so you can make room for the good stuff. It’s especially about enjoying the whole process of creating, even when it seems hard or you feel stuck.
Recently, I took a stack of small prints with me on a road trip so I could practice loving my photos more. I spent time with each one finding small things I enjoyed. I brought them with me on photo outings and looked at them in different landscapes. And it worked! Throughout the trip, I could feel myself releasing negative judgment and having more fun with my photography.
I just felt more motivated to create.
So, today, remind yourself of how much you love what you do and how meaningful the work is in your life. Remind yourself how the process of creating heals you, energizes you, and enriches all parts of you.
Your photography is an integral part of who you are, and loving it more will create infinite motivation.
And here’s the motivation boost to use when all else fails:
#6 Take a Walk
Walking is AWESOME for motivation!
The research on this is pretty conclusive. Walking is good for your body, releases endorphins, and is great for getting creative juices flowing. Even a short walk can be beneficial.
- You can walk inside or outside, whatever you prefer. If you have stairs, try some stair climbing!
- Long walks are good but even a 5-10 minute one is great. More doesn’t always mean better. Do what you can with the time and energy you have.
- Listen to music or walk in silence. Music might multiply your motivation and mood. Personally, I find that when my brain is bored, I come up with my best ideas. So, for me, the sounds of nature are best.
If you know you are going to want a preventative motivation boost, then schedule a walk in advance. Future you will thank you!
And, there ya go! Six different ways to boost your motivation. Use these on a regular basis to keep your momentum going, or try one out when you want a quick motivation infusion.
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do any of these. Try one out, see how it feels, and make adjustments for next time. How you practice photography is up to you. And, if you’re anything like me, the most important thing is that you just keep creating.
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